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27 communities selected to take part in initiatives to boost local food programs

Twenty-seven communities in 22 states will participate in Local Foods, Local Places, a federal program that helps communities increase economic opportunities for local farmers, create vibrant places, and promote childhood wellness by improving access to healthy local food.

Developed as a partnership by six federal agencies, the program is part of the White House Rural Council's Rural Impact work to improve quality of life for children and families in rural communities.

"The community where a child grows up impacts her odds of graduating high school, health outcomes, and lifetime economic opportunities," said Tom Vilsack, secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. "Projects like these help us learn how to better coordinate and target federal assistance as we work with communities to ensure zip codes never determine a child's destiny and every part of America prospers."

"Healthy food and regular physical activity are key ingredients to a long, productive life – but access to vegetables, fruits, and walkable areas is limited for some," said Tom Frieden, M.D., director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "The Local Foods, Local Places program can increase access to these important resources, and CDC is proud to support the expansion of this program in 2016."

Program successes

Launched in 2014, Local Foods, Local Places has helped 26 communities make a difference in people's lives.

Each community works with a team of specialists who help community members recognize local assets and opportunities, set goals for revitalizing downtowns and neighborhoods, and develop a plan to carry out goals. They then identify resources from the six federal agencies to help carry out the plans.

With technical assistance, participants are taking innovative approaches to challenges, such as launching business incubators to support food entrepreneurs and starting cooperative grocery stores to help revitalize main streets. They’re developing community kitchens and food hubs to market local foods.

Through transportation and walkability planning, they’re connecting people to markets and local restaurants.

Health outcomes are being targeted through school and community programs that teach children about nutrition, provide hands-on experience growing food, and expand local markets.

New communities, projects selected

The 27 communities selected for 2016 were chosen from more than 300 applicants to the Local Foods, Local Places program, the USDA said in an announcement Monday. The communities are:

  • Alabama – Bessemer
  • Alaska – Grow Palmer in Palmer
  • Arkansas – Lake Village
  • California – Fresno
  • Colorado – Denver and the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley
  • Georgia – The Winder Housing Authority in Winder
  • Hawaii – The Hawaii Community Development Authority in Honolulu
  • Indiana – Gary
  • Kentucky – Discover Downtown Middlesboro in Middlesboro
  • Maryland – The Baltimore Public Markets Corp. in Baltimore and Somos Inc. in Crisfield
  • Massachusetts – Gloucester
  • Missouri – Ozark County Homegrown Food Projects in Gainesville
  • Nevada – Henderson
  • New Jersey – Passaic
  • New York – The Adirondack North County Association and community partners in Keeseville
  • North Carolina – High Point
  • Pennsylvania – The Redevelopment Authority in Connellsville
  • South Carolina – The Colleton Museum and Farmers Market in Walterboro
  • South Dakota – Rosebud Economic Development Corp. of the Sioux Tribe in Mission
  • Tennessee – Jackson, Martin, and the Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market in Memphis
  • Texas – Dallas
  • Virginia – Christiansburg
  • West Virginia – The Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corp. in Rainelleand

In addition to the USDA and CDC, the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Transportation, Appalachian Regional Commission, and Delta Regional Authority are working in the Local Foods, Local Places program.

Copyright 2016, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist

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