Michigan capitol.

$9.3 Million for 10 Cents! Tell Your Candidates to Keep It Going!

July 18, 2022 |

Look up and email your district candidates here.

In the FY 23 School Aid budget, the legislature recommended and the governor signed continued funding for 10 Cents a Meal at $9.3 million, more than doubling last year’s appropriation! Our goal has long been to fund the program at $10 million per year, and this budget approval is OH SO CLOSE and represents the efforts of so many for so long! Thank you to all of you who have helped get here. Now … we have to keep it going for the long term. Here’s how you can help.

This past Thursday was when Governor Gretchen Whimer solidified the budget increase when she signed the bipartisan education budget into law at Mott Community College in Flint. “The 10 Cents a Meal program feeds our kids and supports family farmers and growers. Under this historic education bill, we have again more than doubled funding for this program that offers healthy, affordable meals to our kids,” the governor said. “As we continue our economic jumpstart, we have to make sure everyone has the resources and support they need to succeed. I am grateful to the Michigan Department of Education and legislators for coming together to get this done for our kids.” This latest budget increase is the culmination of years of work and advocacy for the program and is truly something to celebrate. 
But here’s the rub—included in the boilerplate budget language was also the caveat in the intent language that the $4.8 million dollar increase is for FY 2022-23 only. If we want to hold on to these appropriation gains for our kids and farm families, it is incumbent upon us to help share the stories of the impact 10 Cents a Meal is having in every legislative district.

With the potential for an incoming class of legislative freshman larger than it has been in electoral cycles past, it is more essential than ever to educate and give localized perspective on the impact of 10 Cents a Meal as both a matter of policy and the real-world impact in communities across the state. We have made it incredibly easy for you to send an email  to your primary candidates to engage with them and educate them about this important program.

This Michigan election cycle is like no other we’ve seen in recent memory. With high-profile executive offices (governor, attorney general and secretary of state) up for grabs in addition to all seats in the House and Senate. Putting an exclamation point on the season, for the first time, the legislative voting district maps have been drawn by the state’s referendum-created redistricting commission. The redistricting commission has made it easy for voters to find their new House and Senate districts (click the respective links to see what district you are in).

With so many contested races and candidates running for office, and terms limited, it’s important to get ahead of the ball insofar as candidate introductions are concerned. It’s essential to introduce yourself and your organization to as many key candidates as possible, so you have laid the groundwork with the eventual winner of the race. The sooner you introduce yourself (or organization) to a candidate, the better because of the very condensed timeline an incoming legislator faces from primary election to general election, to being seated in the legislature. Their attention is about to be divided between hundreds of other issues, interest groups and associations, so your best bet is to connect with them before the rush.

Candidate education at the very least is a matter of introducing yourself and your work to potential candidates. These folks who are taking the plunge into running for office are either going to be elected to the state legislature, or are very likely to run again for something else if they lose.

Early engagement is key when it comes to setting yourself apart from those other entities, orgs and individuals. Coming to legislators later, hat in hand, makes you look like you’re cozying up only because they finally got elected or you need something. Which you probably do.

Introduction and education efforts can include but are not limited to: 

  • Introductions of yourself and your organization and membership 
  • Legislative priorities and issues
  • Local personnel/active members in their respective districts 
  • An invitation to candidates for active and continued engagement
  • Follow-ups after primary (regrets and congrats)

My first boss in the legislature would admonish me to remember: “Sometimes when you lose, you win!” That means these candidates will turn up again, so learn who they are, and engage with them when you have a chance to get on their neutral side.

And remember: This republic of ours only works if the citizenry is vigilant and engaged! It is your right and duty to engage with would-be legislators of all stripes, not just those with whom you always agree. So make sure to exercise your rights, lest someone else take your place. As the old political saying goes, if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.