Our Approach

This multi-disciplinary research study is a collaborative effort across six research teams using an environmental justice lens to examine food insecurity from a diversity of perspectives throughout Michigan’s food system. 


What We Do

The FAIM Project focuses on understanding the complex reality of food environments across Michigan. We conduct qualitative and quantitative research addressing one of our state’s most critical challenges: feeding all communities across Michigan with locally grown, healthy and affordable foods while supporting small farmers and growers in the process.

We work with a diverse array of stakeholders to assess current barriers to and opportunities for improving access to regionally produced healthy food for people across Michigan.

Our goal is to develop strategies for fostering vibrant, food secure communities that are rooted in principles of justice and equity for everyone along the food chain.


Our Goals

(1)   Utilize an environmental justice framework to consider the effect of resource distribution across the food system and the resulting impact on access to healthy, local and affordable food

(2)   Assess the capacity of Michigan’s food system to meet the needs of the state’s population

(3)   Seek the perspectives and experiences of a diversity of individuals deeply situated throughout Michigan’s food system to understand how they see that the food system can support communities across the state 

(4)   Explore the barriers faced by small farmers and ways they could expand their contributions to local markets, as well as regional food systems across the state

(5)   Consider the role small retailers sourcing local food can play in strengthening local food systems

(6)   Collaborate with community based organizations across the state who are engaging their neighbors and networks in growing food

(7)   Integrate research findings across the FAIM Project studies to illuminate the complexity and interdependence of various sectors of the food system 

(8)   Highlight state, regional, and local policies that will help to strengthen local food systems and reduce food insecurity 

(9)   Educate graduate and undergraduate students through service-learning courses regarding food systems and food security issues and opportunities

(10)   Broadly share research findings with institutions, organizations, communities and anyone interested in developing a deeper understanding of Michigan’s food system 



Research activities include the following:

Interviews with food retailers sourcing local produce

Focus groups with small farmers

Spatial analysis of Michigan’s food landscape


  • University of Michigan
  • University of Michigan – Flint
  • Grand Valley State University
  • Lake Superior State University
  • Michigan State University
  • University of Wisconsin – Madison

To learn more about project investigators, click here

Community Partner Organizations

  • Allen Neighborhood Center (ANC)
  • Baxter Community Center
  • Detroit Black Community Food Security Network (DBCFSN)
  • edible flint
  • Fresh EUP
  • Growing Hope

To learn more about the community partner organizations, click here