The Obama Administration invited communities on Tuesday to participate in Local Foods, Local Places, a federal initiative providing direct technical support to build strong local food systems as part of a community's emerging economic action plans. Under this effort, a team of agricultural, transportation, public health, environmental, and regional economic experts will work directly with local communities to spur local economic growth and improve the quality of life for all residents, said officials.
Local food sales topped $11.7 billion in 2014 according to industry estimates, underscoring the economic benefit that a local food system can offer a community.
“EPA is pleased to support the Local Foods, Local Places with our many partners,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “We know new development has a big impact on our air quality and water quality and on human health. Supporting farmers markets, community gardens and other food-related enterprises in established neighborhoods can help protect the environment, improve health and create jobs and new business opportunity. It’s a win for everyone.”
This is the second year of the Local Foods, Local Places program. In 2014, 26 rural and urban communities participated in the program to create year-round, downtown markets featuring foods from local farmers; establish retail outlets to help revitalize small-town main streets; build centrally located community kitchens or food hubs to aggregate and market local foods; support business incubators to help entrepreneurs start food-related businesses on main streets; enhance public spaces for people to walk or bicycle to farmers markets and local restaurants; assist schoolchildren to grow their own food and make healthy local food accessible to families, including via SNAP benefits; and develop community gardens in walkable, transit-accessible places, said official.s
Technical support teams through Local Foods, Local Places helped Osceola, Ar. (population 7,700) develop a new health foods cooking curriculum for the local school district, create a plan for a new downtown farmers market and implement infrastructure improvement efforts; guided North Little Rock, Ar. (population 62,000) to enhance the livability of an emerging neighborhood though a new food hub; and worked with Wheeling, W.V. (population 28,000) to revitalize underused property into a community orchard, multi-use food facility, and a mobile market.
Local Foods, Local Places is a partnership between USDA, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Transportation, the Appalachian Regional Commission, and the Delta Regional Authority. The effort is part of the White House Rural Council’s “Rural Impact” effort to improve quality of life and upward mobility for kids and families in rural and tribal communities. Together, the agencies are investing $800,000 to support this round of assistance. Application guidelines and deadlines are available on line.
More information about Local Foods, Local Places: http://www2.epa.gov/smart-growth/local-foods-local-places