UPPER PENINSULA, Mich. (WJMN) – Thanks to a collaborative effort, farmers across the Upper Peninsula have an opportunity to apply for grant funding which can be used to build cold storage facilities for fresh produce.

The grant program is funded by the Superior Health Foundation and will award up to $14,000 to one farm from each of the U.P.’s three regional planning districts.

The money can be used used for the materials and labor to build new or additional facilities, as well as access to technical assistance for construction and food safety training.

The U.P. Food Exchange, in partnership with Upper Peninsula Food as Medicine Team and Upper Peninsula Commission for Area Progress, is facilitating the program.

“Farm debt is a huge problem across the country. Even small-scale farming requires taking on a high amount of debt that is difficult to pay back, especially with an income that varies seasonally,” said Sarah Monte, outreach director at the Marquette Food Co-op and UPFE member. “UPFE is thrilled to be working on a project that helps minimize or remove a financial barrier for our area farms. All of us in the community benefit when local farms succeed.”

According to a release from the U.P. Food Exchange, “Adequate cold storage facilities are essential for farms to be able to expand their operations. Without cold storage, harvesting must be done hours before the delivery, limiting the farm’s ability to take on more accounts or attend more farmers markets.   The facilities also extend the agricultural sales season by providing space for keeping storage crops that can be sold well into the winter, directly supporting the growth of the U.P. farm economy and increasing access to local food for all residents.

“Currently, 1 in 7 individuals or approximately 14 percent of U.P. residents are food insecure. With the national average at 10.5 percent, the local numbers are significant,” said Tammy Rosa, nutrition program manager at UPCAP. “UPCAP participates in many community initiatives throughout the region and is very excited to be a part of this collaboration of partners working to improve the food security of residents with economic barriers, while building a stronger regional food system.”

  • Applications open January 31, 2023
  • Application Deadline is March 1, 2023 at 5pm
  • Awards Announced March 15, 2023
  • Project Completion Deadline is September 30, 2023

To learn more and to access the grant application, visit upfoodexchange.com/cold-storage-grant-program. Questions can be directed to info@upfoodexchange.com or 906-225-0671 x723.

This grant is tied to the U.P. Prescription for Health program, in which physicians “prescribe” fresh produce vouchers to individuals at risk or diagnosed with a chronic health condition that are also experiencing economic barriers to purchasing food. To learn more about Prescription for Health, visit http://upcap.org/program/food-as-medicine