Network aims to boost Michigan-produced food

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A new network aims to connect farmers, food processors and food service directors as part of an effort to increase the amount of Michigan-produced food served in schools, hospitals and other institutions, officials said Thursday.

The Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems and the nonprofit Ecology Center environmental group announced the launch of the Michigan Farm to Institution Network.

"The timing to initiate this network is right," Colleen Matts, a Center for Regional Food Systems specialist and Michigan Farm to Institution Network co-coordinator, said in a statement. "We continue to see local food purchasing grow in Michigan's schools, hospitals and other institutions."

Organizers want schools, child care centers, hospitals, colleges and universities to get 20 percent of their food products from Michigan growers, producers and processors by 2020. The Center for Regional Food Systems said that food service directors have expressed interest in the idea.

The Ann Arbor-based Ecology Center is working with Michigan hospitals on the effort. A campaign called "Cultivate Michigan" aims to help institutions reach the goal, featuring four local, seasonally available foods each year to help support the effort.

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Online:

http://www.foodsystems.msu.edu

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