Ag Agency awarded $500,000 to increase access to local food

USDA Local Food Procurement Assistance connects local farmers with disadvantaged communities

Vermont Business Magazine The Vermont Agency for Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) will launch an important program to purchase local food and support the most vulnerable. Earlier this summer, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced that it had signed a cooperation agreement with Vermont under the Local Food Purchase Agreement Program (LFPA). Through LFPA, VAAFM connects with local partners to procure and distribute locally grown, produced and processed food from underserved producers.

“These important investments in our farmers and producers will help grow Vermont’s economy while protecting the most vulnerable,” said Anson Tibbets, Vermont’s Secretary of Agriculture. “This innovative approach to feeding those in need will provide healthy food while supporting those who earn their living from the land.”

Five projects with nonprofit partners will begin this fall:

  • Abenaki helps the Abenaki: $50,000 to purchase culturally appropriate food for distribution across partner food stores and distribution sites across the state. The funding will also support an increase in the number of employees in one food pantry to expand operating hours.
  • Capstone Community Action: $20,000 to purchase local food for use in the Community Kitchen Academy training program and associated distribution sites as well as their food rack.
  • Agricultural Economics Center: $50,000 to expand the Produce to Pantry offering that supplies food stores with fresh, local foods.
  • Intervale Center: $72,000 to expand offerings, particularly of culturally appropriate produce, at pop-up farmers markets in historically disadvantaged neighborhoods.
  • Food Bank in Vermont: $61,765 to partner with a new American chicken farmer and local slaughterhouse to provide halal chicken for distribution to new Americans across the state. This project will also purchase and distribute African maize varieties.

In addition, the Vermont Land Fund And the Chittenden feeding Partnership to expand the procurement and distribution of goat meat to refugees and new American communities.

These partner organizations will use the local food procurement assistance funds to expand purchasing relationships with local and underserved farmers and producers and distribute the purchased food to underserved communities. These projects will run for 18 months and will vary in size and scope but all aim to increase access to culturally appropriate local food products and support diversified farmers and food producers.

As part of this program, the VAAFM will release a Request for Application (RFA) this fall to urge other organizations and individual farms to participate in this initiative. The money will be awarded to farms and organizations that demonstrate their ability to purchase and distribute local foodstuffs from socially disadvantaged producers to disadvantaged community members throughout Vermont.

“This opportunity will allow us to purchase food from local farmers and work with food access organizations to distribute healthy and nutritious foods to underserved communities. These investments will create new market opportunities for our agricultural producers and ensure that disadvantaged populations experience increased food security during this critical period.”

“The USDA is excited to partner with Vermont to advance economic opportunities for farmers and producers and to increase access to locally sourced, fresh, healthy and nutritious food in underserved communities,” said Jenny Lister Moffett, USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs. “The Local Food Purchase Cooperative Agreement program will improve the resilience of the food and agricultural supply chain and increase local food consumption across the country.”

The LFPA program is accredited by the US Rescue Plan to maintain and improve the resilience of the food and agricultural supply chain. Through this program, the USDA will award up to $400 million through noncompetitive cooperative agreements with state and tribal governments to support local, regional, and underserved producers by purchasing food produced in-state or within 400 miles of a delivery destination.

September 23, 2022 | Montpellier, Vato – Vermont Agency for Agriculture, Food and Markets

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