LANSING, MICH. — The Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association (MRLA) and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) have announced a partnership that will enable restaurants to sell food and pantry items, which currently, can be sold only by grocery and retail stores.
Michigan’s restaurant industry, which already is trained in food safety and sanitation, only needed guidance on how to label food to conduct retail sales. Through this new partnership, restaurants can receive training on proper labeling so they can sell food and pantry items directly to consumers, which not only offers more options to Michigan consumers, but also keeps the supply chain moving in more directions.
“Michigan’s food and agriculture industry continues to demonstrate why it is considered one of the most diverse, innovative, and nimble in the nation,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “This partnership is yet another example of how our businesses and our state agencies have worked together to solve problems quickly, not only for the industry, but also for Michigan consumers.”
“These partnerships—these solutions—don’t happen by luck or by accident,” said MDARD Director Gary McDowell. “A state agency like MDARD is able to partner with private industry and an association like MRLA and make change quickly because of the relationships that have been built over decades. When Michigan distilleries say they can change their operations to make much-needed hand sanitizer, MDARD paves the regulatory road and gets out of the way. And when restaurants tell us they have excess food coming in that could be sold directly to consumers, we work with MRLA to help get that done.”
“Michigan restaurants are facing the COVID-19 crisis head-on and ensuring Michiganders have access to safe food. Grocery stores are overwhelmed with unprecedented demand. The food supply chain for the restaurant industry is, vetted, reliable and a great resource to supplement traditional grocery stores,” said Justin Winslow, MRLA President and CEO. “Having restaurants sell typical grocery items will help support the extremely taxed grocery stores and provide customers with access to the essential food supplies they need during the Stay Home, Stay Safe Executive Order issued by Governor Whitmer.”
The MRLA has provided the guidance documents on its website for all industry members seeking to provide support to the grocery stores. For access to the documents, visit www.mrla.org/coronavirus.html. Foodservice operations can find free ServSafe food safety training specific to take-out and delivery services that provides specific resources for keeping food safe amidst the Coronavirus outbreak.