GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan’s director of Agriculture and Rural Development made stops in West Michigan Wednesday to highlight his department’s efforts to get healthy food into the hands of people experiencing food insecurity or who live in food deserts.

Director Gary McDowell stopped at the South East Market on Kalamazoo Avenue near Hall Street SE in Grand Rapids to visit with its co-owners and founders.

It’s a locally sourced and affordable market in an area that had been underserved in access to healthy, fresh food. Despite a pandemic and the other obstacles of opening a new business, the market is thriving and still looking for more innovation, something McDowell applauded.

“This is one of the things we’re looking at: community,” McDowell said. “Working with community, growing your food locally and making sure that is available to people in the community who normally would have a hard time, difficult time. And this right here is just a great example of community. These two young women of color coming together and their passion for their community, came up with this store, this concept, this whole idea of how to get food to everybody in their community. Food insecurity is solvable.”

McDowell said that getting food to underserved areas is part of the focus of a council formed to look at food insecurity in Michigan. He also said the pending budget includes money that could be made available to support that effort.