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Community food projects to launch with $10 million USDA investment

The funding was awarded Dec. 14, with projects spread out across the country. Four Minnesota communities were selected.

ProduceBox USDA.jpg
Community food projects, powered by a network of stakeholders from across the food system, support small to medium farmers, producers and processors in urban, rural, tribal and insular areas.
Courtesy Julia Sudnitskaya / Getty Images.
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WASHINGTON — Four Minnesota communities are among 29 awardees of the Community Food Projects Competitive Grants Program .

The U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture announced the investment of nearly $10 million on Wednesday, Dec. 14.

This funding, made possible through the American Rescue Plan Act, bolsters USDA’s food and nutrition security efforts by promoting the self-reliance of communities in providing for the unique food needs of their community members.

Community food projects, powered by a network of stakeholders from across the food system, support small to medium farmers, producers and processors in urban, rural, tribal and insular areas. The program provides communities a voice in food system decisions and supports local food markets to fully benefit the community, increase food and nutrition security and stimulate local economies, according to a USDA news release.

The program aims to increase community self-reliance by promoting comprehensive responses to local food access, farm and nutrition issues; meeting specific state, local neighborhood food and agricultural needs including providing operating equipment; planning for long-term solutions; and creating innovative marketing activities that mutually benefit agricultural producers and low-income consumers.

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“Community food projects are already making a tremendous impact throughout the nation by increasing access and consumption of nutritious local foods, enhancing workforce development and supporting entrepreneurship,” said Acting NIFA Director Dr. Dionne Toombs.

Nutrition in the news

The funds will be invested in 29 Community Foods Projects from fiscal year 2022 Request for Applications submissions. The applications were highly ranked but could not be funded at the time due to budget constraints.

Minnesota was the only state in the upper Midwest to receive funding. Those funded projects include:

Duluth
ECOLIBRIUM3 was awarded $345,309. Lincoln Park is Duluth's highest priority food access area due to the lack of healthy, affordable food retailing within the neighborhood, high levels of poverty, and mobility limitations due to lack of vehicle ownership and high levels of disability.

This project builds upon existing community assets to create economic and educational opportunity for residents while implementing a small footprint grocery store, commercial kitchen, and urban agriculture and education site.

Little Falls
Sprout, MN was awarded $233,803 to support a planned community owned grocery store (The Purple Carrot), permanent infrastructure for a farmer's market and utilization of Sprout food hub assets to reach more families in need with healthy food.

Grant County
West Central Initiative in Fergus Falls was awarded $374,021 to expand access to healthful and locally produced foods through education, production and agricultural enterprise.

Minneapolis
The Youth Farm and Market Project was awarded $373,881 to support a healthy Northside community by creating access to diverse healthy food options, creating safe spaces centered around food and develop social entrepreneurial skills and knowledge among youth participants including youth development skills (leadership, facilitation, and project management skills), community engagement skills, and workforce readiness skills.

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