Phil Knight is executive director of the Food Bank Council of Michigan
At the Food Bank Council of Michigan, it’s our mission to make Michigan a food secure state, ensuring no family or child goes hungry. Food insecurity, the inability to know if you will have enough food for the foreseeable future, creates an environment of toxic stress that contributes to challenges with health, education and workforce retention.
This stubborn but solvable problem affects the youngest to the oldest. I’ve never met anyone who wants kids to go hungry, seniors to suffer or working families to struggle with having enough food. Everyone I know in our Michigan Legislature and the governor’s office and business community wants to drive hunger out of Michigan.
Our network relies on state roads and bridges to deliver food to our network of food pantries as we work to end hunger. This is why we support efforts to fix Michigan’s crumbling roads and bridges. It’s no secret to our transportation teams that we have some of the worst roads anywhere. In fact, last year the American Society of Civil Engineers rated the state’s roads a “D-minus.”
Our drivers cover over 2 million miles every year, transporting food among a network of nearly 3,000 pantries. It seems they know every bump and pothole in the state – and there are plenty. In fact, in 2018 alone we spent over $4 million on transportation expenses so our fleet could deliver more than 205 million pounds of food to our hungry neighbors.
An investment in the state’s infrastructure is an investment in our future and will help the Food Bank Council of Michigan continue its work to end food insecurity in Michigan. If you prioritize food security in someone’s life, you bring them stability, empowerment and better health – all of which have a positive economic impact on the individual and their family. FBCM believes that the increased expenditures in fuel now will result in long-term savings on maintenance.
I am convinced that if you’re hungry, you only have one problem: Figuring out where your next meal is coming from. If we can take hunger off the table by working together and putting food first, then we empower Michiganders across the state to become more self-sufficient.
Housed within the proposed budgets are innovative solutions to support our efforts to go to the next level of food security. For example, the governor wants to create a position that addresses food insecurity across our state. This position would be the first of its kind in the U.S. and put Michigan on the road to a more food secure state. There is strategic support from the legislature that sets aside funding to address food insecurity in some of the state’s most rural areas.
Therefore, I urge our leaders in the Michigan Legislature and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to work together to find a long-term solution to fix our roads and bridges. Then, we can get to work implementing innovative solutions that allow us to go to meet the needs of our working families, kids and seniors.
Together, we can fix more than just the roads. We can become the first state that drives out hunger. So why not do so on newly paved roads and solid bridges?