My work: Empowering underserved groups to make healthy choices by increasing affordable access to fresh and local foods.
Check out this video for more on Michel's work:
This profile was prepared when Michel Nischan was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2010.
The New Idea
A chef and the grandson of farmers, Michel is re-creating local economies to nourish low-income families and support small and mid-size farmers. To bring about this market transformation, Michel enlists select local partners across the country, and with them, cultivates the largely untapped market among America’s low-income families living in urban areas. To start off, he is introducing an incentive that doubles the buying power of low-income consumers at farmer’s markets, a doubling that is made possible through blended financing of philanthropic and public investment. The incentive helps the market re-form around healthy food commerce and settle, longer-term, into a new and sustainable pattern with local food production and consumption for all at its core. Having begun in 2007, Michel and his team are working with 27 citizen organizations (COs) in 18 states, and showing significant results in 160 farmers’ markets. Using this early success to attract the attention of policymakers, Michel and his co-founder aim to reach a scale that matters by redirecting a portion of appropriate federal and state funds (i.e. they are targeting the 2012 Farm Bill) and by cultivating philanthropic sources interested in creating a new system of local food commerce and healthier communities.