BALDWIN — Members and partners of the Lake County Community Food Council have been busy this past year creating greater access to healthy food sustainability to families in Lake County. During their holiday gathering on Monday at St. Ann’s Senior Center, the group reviewed accomplishments in 2018 and set goals for 2019.

“Three years ago, Michigan State University Extension received a U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Research grant for Lake County if we converted the Bread of Life Food Pantry to a pantry of choice, offering more fresh food choices, and if we formed a community food council to guide food projects and work with local pantries,” said Kendra Wills, of MSU Extension.

Wills said that the Lake County Community Food Council has continued to improve access and awareness of healthy food choices in Lake County communities in 2018 by facilitating such projects as offering canning workshops, supporting the development of the Idlewild community garden, setting up breastfeeding tents at community festivals, partnering with Spectrum Health to support increased health for Bread of Life pantry clients and partnering with District Health Department No. 10 to support Eat Fit project to provide signage in grocery stores and restaurant menus to promote healthy choices.

LCCFC also continued another year of hunter safety courses under direction of member Leo Hesting to give youth training with firearms and certification so they can help provide food for their families. This was the first time in more than 20 years Lake County had a hunter safety program, Wills added.

Wills discussed the tornadoes which struck Lake County on Aug. 28.

“The storm of 2018 continues to impact communities. The pantry received donations to help replenish food loss and fix part of the roof which was damaged,” she said.

Another highlight for the food council is a cookbook which came out just in time for the holidays.

“People are truly excited about all the recipes. We had over 200 recipes submitted from community members,” said LCCFC Chair Nancy Przedwojewski, adding the proceeds of the cookbook support LCCFC projects.

The group discussed possibilities for next year.

Heather Morche, new director of Luther Area Public Library, said in 2019, she would like the Luther community to be part of the effort with the library community garden. Kids of all ages help grow and tend an eight-bed garden behind the library. She also wants to teach them the importance of using compost to help fertilize the ground.