Since 1988, the Tuuri Health Fund has been a major source of funding for health-related programs and services in Genesee County. Named in honor of Arthur L. Tuuri, the Community Foundation's first present, the Fund has awarded more than $9 million in health grants since inception.
Today, is seems inconceivable that people would lack something as basic as food. Yet, that is the case in Genesee County where 82,570 people are considered "food insecure" and do not know where their next meal is coming from. In the city of Flint, this translates to 29,372 food insecure people living more than one mile from a grocery store.
The issue of access to healthy foods-in particular fresh fruits and vegetables-is being addressed by the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan (FBEM) which serves 22 counties, including Genesee. The new Hunger Solution Center, a 62,000-square-foot warehouse, doubles the Food Bank's size and its ability to accept and repackage fresh fruits and vegetables into family size units.
"The new space focuses directly on fresh bulk produce the Food Bank cannot currently accept," said Bill Kerr, President of the FBEM. "With new partnerships with farmers and major grocery chains, the Food Bank is in a unique position to provide health food options to those with the greatest need. However, we cannot capitalize on the full potential of this commodity without the ability to repackage this food into family size units."
A community-wide capital campaign to support the $5.25 million warehouse renovation is under way. A $50,000 grant was awarded by the Tuuri Health Fund Advisory Committee in support of the campaign. Committee members, under the leadership of chair and trustee Nancy Hanflik, understand the connection between access to healthy food and good health.
"The ultimate goal of the Solution Center is to increase access and healthy food options to those experiencing food insecurity and are at greater risk for negative long-term health consequences," Hanflik said. "We believe that this building will truly engage the community in fighting hunger and developing healthy outcomes for those in need."