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MN grocer among grant recipients for food access program

PIERZ, Minn. - A new report from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture shows a statewide program designed to help reduce the lack of access many Minnesotans have to healthy and affordable foods has proven to be far more popular with food retail...

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One of the the Minnesota Good Food Access Program funded proposals, Pierz Foods in Pierz, Minn., will purchase coolers and shelves to increase store capacity, with a focus on Minnesota-grown products. The full-service grocery store offers a grocery delivery service to local seniors and community members who are unable to visit their store. Screenshot of Pierz Foods website.

PIERZ, Minn. - A new report from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture shows a statewide program designed to help reduce the lack of access many Minnesotans have to healthy and affordable foods has proven to be far more popular with food retailers than supporters of the program imagined.

One of the funded proposals, Pierz Foods in Pierz, Minn., will purchase coolers and shelves to increase store capacity, with a focus on Minnesota-grown products. The full-service grocery store offers a grocery delivery service to local seniors and community members who are unable to visit their store.

The program, the Minnesota Good Food Access Program, was created by the Minnesota Legislature two years ago and is designed to provide loans, grants and technical assistance to help existing or new enterprises provide healthy and affordable foods in locations lacking access to such foods. The Minnesota Good Food Access Program was provided a one-time appropriation of $250,000 in 2017. Another appropriation through the Agricultural Growth, Research, and Innovation Program included language allowing for up to $250,000 per year for the next two years to be allocated for the Good Food Access at the discretion of the commissioner.

According to the report from MDA, in response to a request for proposals issued in March 2017 for up to $150,000 to help assist grocery stores and small food retailers to apply for funds to purchase equipment and make physical improvements, the department received 57 eligible applications totaling $1,418,646. A total of $150,000 was awarded for eight projects, with award amounts ranging from $3,716 to $39,000.

Of the eight funded proposals, four serve rural communities and four serve urban areas (including St. Cloud and the Twin Cities). Five are for-profit businesses, two are nonprofit organizations and one is a tribal government.

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Studies show more than 340,000 Minnesotans face both distance and income as a barrier to obtaining healthy, affordable food, and approximately 235,000 Minnesotans live more than 10 miles away from a large grocery store or supermarket. Many of the retail food outlets in these locations are aging and often in need of equipment and facility upgrades.

The lack of access to healthy foods impacts Minnesotans of all ages who live in urban and rural locations alike. Of the Minnesotans who face distance and income barriers to healthy and affordable foods, 1 in 5 are seniors 65 years old or older, and 1 in 4 are children through age 17.

Related Topics: PIERZFOOD
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