USDA Aims to Improve Food and Nutrition Education for Low-Income Communities

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced support to develop local and self-reliant food systems, such as farm to table enterprises that bring nutritious food to low-income communities. This funding is available through NIFA’s Community Food Projects Competitive Grant Program, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

“This program reaches into neighborhoods across America to improve access to food and nutrition education, assist community outreach, and empower local farms,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “These NIFA investments help communities develop field to fork food systems that provide long-term community solutions.”

The primary goals of the Community Food Projects Competitive Grant Program (CFP) are to meet the food needs of low-income individuals, increase the self-reliance of communities in providing for their food needs, promote comprehensive responses to local food access, farm, and nutrition issues, and meet specific state, local, or neighborhood food and agricultural needs. Grants aim to bring together stakeholders from the distinct parts of the food system and foster understanding of national food security trends and how they might improve local food systems.

In fiscal year 2017, 35 grants totaling $8.6 million were awarded through the CFP program.

Project details can be found at the NIFA website.

One of the new projects, the Waimanalo Market Co-op in Waimanalo, Hawaii, will involve connecting local farmers with their communities to provide better access to culturally accepted foods, increasing the number of farmers, and educating citizens about eating healthier by making better food choices.

Since 1996, Community Food Projects have awarded approximately $101 million to organizations nationwide. Among previously funded projects, the City Schoolyard Garden, Inc, in Charlottesville, Virginia, helps local communities work together to educate their neighbors about healthy eating and local food choices. These efforts have created a food system for all citizens, regardless of background or neighborhood. The Fayette County Community Action Agency, Inc. (FCCAA) is developing the Republic Food Enterprise Center (RFEC) in Republic, Pennsylvania, to connect producers and growers, retailers, and consumers. They also create a support system to develop sustainable businesses within the food system.