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Veneman Awards $4.6 Million in Grants to Community Food Projects

DES MOINES – To help commemorate World Food Day, Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman recently announced that 28 grants totaling more than $4.6 million have been awarded as part of USDA’s Community Food Projects Competitive Grants Program, including a $118,000 grant to Practical Farmers of Iowa to help increase food security in low-income neighborhoods in Des Moines.

“The Bush Administration is committed to helping all Americans have access to a healthy and nutritious food supply,” said Veneman. “These grants invest in innovative community-based projects that that will also provide access to nutritious food for those in need.”

Veneman was in Des Moines to participate in World Food Day activities including the World Food Day Symposium and the presentation of the World Food Prize. World Food Day is a worldwide event designed to increase awareness, understanding and year-around action to alleviate hunger. It is observed each October 16 in recognition of the founding of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 1945. The first World Food Day was in 1981.

Veneman also awarded a separate grant of $200,000 to World Hunger Year Organization (WHY) of New York, NY to support a National Clearinghouse on Community Food Security Grants. This grant will allow WHY to gather information on community food security and innovative programs that address common community problems faced by low-income people on food and nutrition issues. The funding will also allow WHY to operate a web-based National Information Clearinghouse to disseminate creative and original solutions to food and hunger concerns.

The Community Food Projects awards, made to non-profit organizations in 20 states, will bolster local efforts to meet the food needs of low-income people, increase the self-reliance of communities to meet their own food needs, and promote comprehensive responses to local food, farm, and nutrition issues. The Fiscal Year 2003 grant awards are as follows:

Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, Elkins, $177,743. This training and technical assistance effort will improve community food security in the southern United States by increasing understanding of food security within the sustainable agriculture community in that region of the nation

Northern Arizona University Foundation, Flagstaff, $196,000. This project will establish a food and water council to serve a four-county area in which community food security is linked to the availability of water, due to frequent local drought conditions.

The Ecology Center, Berkeley, $200,000. This project will increase the consumption of high-quality, nutritious, and culturally appropriate fresh fruits and vegetables among low-income residents of South and West Berkeley and North Oakland by improving access to fresh produce sold through farm stands and mini-markets. Community Food Security Coalition, Venice, $247,245 – This training and technical assistance project will build capacity for successful community food projects on a nationwide basis through increasing awareness of the program, assisting potential applicants in understanding the application process, and assisting grantees in implementing and evaluating their projects. Fresno Metropolitan Ministries, Fresno, $200,000. This project will address problems in the local food system through community food assessments conducted by neighborhood organizations, the establishment of a Fresno Food Policy Council, gleaning and food recovery, mobile produce vending, school usage of community garden produce, and expanded participation in federal nutrition programs. Los Angeles Leadership Academy, Los Angeles, $100,000. This project at a charter school will include direct produce purchases from small farmers, a rooftop garden, encouragement of better nutrition through parent education, community food assessments conducted by children, and support for farmers’ markets and other income-generating activities. Environmental Science Institute, Oakland, $225,000. The project will address economic development and improved access to healthful foods through support of a farmers’ market, development of local corner stores, conversions of liquor stores into groceries, a cooperative market; and school and church-based community supported agriculture programs.

Hartford Food System, Hartford, $150,000. This project will build and expand the food policy-making capacity of the Connecticut Food Policy Council in the areas of regional and local planning, child nutrition education in response to obesity, development of food stores in urban areas, farmland preservation, and the economic vitality of state agriculture.

Florida Certified Organic Growers and Consumers, Gainesville, $108,000. This project will create a replicable job training and social entrepreneurship program for teens that will encourage them to teach their peers about local food, farm, and nutrition issues and be involved in building a business based on fresh produce and value-added products. GEORGIA Federation of Southern Cooperatives, East Point, $175,000. This project will expand existing cooperatives in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina through the provision of workshops, technical assistance, strengthening direct marketing outlets, and the development of a cooperative marketing manual geared to the needs of small black farmers in the four states.

Illinois Stewardship Alliance, Rochester, $120,000. This project will establish a statewide food policy council for Illinois to bring together public and private interests to increase local marketing opportunities, foster local policy councils, and facilitate sustainable community food systems.

Practical Farmers of Iowa, Ames, $118,000. This project will increase food security by expanding gardening activities in low-income neighborhoods in Des Moines through building raised-bed gardens, creating edible landscapes, providing heirloom seeds to families, establishing food-based businesses, and marketing garden produce.

Coastal Enterprises, Wiscasset, $200,000 – This project will develop a program to support immigrant farmers as they transition to sustainable agriculture, enhance food production and preservation through establishment of a community kitchen, promote community gardens and farmland, and support innovative marketing activities.

Community Teamwork, Lowell, $175,000. This project will follow-up on a previous grant for training of immigrant farmers by establishing a marketing cooperative to aid the farmers in finding viable outlets for their produce and specialty crops. Red Tomato, Canton, $150,000. This project will offer a channel for locally-grown fruits and vegetables to reach commercial distribution networks in places where low-income people shop by working with farmers and a large regional supermarket chain. Seeds of Solidarity Education Fund, Orange, $160,000. This project will teach low-income teenagers to grow food in school-based gardens that emphasize season extenders, encourage these schools to source 20 percent of their produce from local farms, and facilitate small farmers in becoming mentors to schools.

Capuchin Soup Kitchen, Detroit, $ 150,000. The project will advance urban agriculture in Detroit through home and community gardens, including tilling services, seed saving, seedling production, gardening workshops, community tool banks, resource centers, and model gardens.

Land Stewardship Project, Montevideo, $127,000. This project will develop and implement an extensive consumer education and marketing program, “Pride of the Prairie,” to promote local foods in grocery stores, restaurants, group homes, and other institutions in the area. White Earth Land Recovery Project, Ponsford, $170,000. This project will help restore traditional Indian agriculture based on the corn-beans-squash gardening method through the increased production of heirloom crops in family gardens and greenhouses and promotion of local and national marketing initiatives.

Farm to Table, Santa Fe, $190,000. This project will help build a network of food policy councils in four states – Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah – with a focus on the increased use of local foods via expansion of farmers’ markets, farm-to-school mechanisms, and other delivery systems.

Just Food, New York, $200,000. Working in partnership with over 50 organizations, this project will double the number of successful community supported agriculture sites in the City each year, enabling increased numbers of low-income residents to gain access to fresh produce while simultaneously aiding local farmers.

Parshall Resource Center, Parshall, $150,000. This project will expand existing organic and historic Tribal gardening practices to support the local food system, along with expansion of a food pantry, sales of local foods, a voucher system for emergency assistance, and a traveling “Healthy Food Kitchen” for nutrition education demonstrations.

Appalachian Resource Center for Economic Networks, Athens, $200,000. This project will enhance the food system in a three-county area of southeastern Ohio by developing linkages between low-income residents, businesses, consumers, and non-profit and faith-based organizations, that will encompass gleaning and food processing, training and assistance to food-related enterprises, a regional branding program, and a local Food Congress.

Community Action Resource Enterprises, Tillamook, $206,000. This project will include a local food policy council, community kitchen, education programs, and community gardens in an area that experiences physical and social isolation during winter months when severe storms severely limit access to food. Ecotrust, Portland, $125,000. This project will work with four Indian tribes in several states in the Columbia River region to improve the value of the underutilized “Tule” salmon by developing and processing salmon products.

Rhode Island Association of Conservation Districts, Warwick, $130,000. This project will work with urban and rural youth to promote neighborhood gardening and food production, along with the establishment of a food policy council.

Shelburne Farms, Shelburne, $175,000. This project will improve school meals and develop new farm and food opportunities through community gardens, the establishment of a Food Council, assessment of school food purchasing policies, and enhanced marketing, production, processing, and distribution of local foods.

American Community Gardening Association, Blacksburg, $74,738. This training and technical assistance project will provide regional training sessions on community gardening based on the organization’s “Growing Communities Curriculum” and the successful “From the Roots Up” mentorship program.

World Food Day is a worldwide event designed to increase awareness, understanding and year-around action to alleviate hunger. It is observed each October 16 in recognition of the founding of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 1945. The first World Food Day was in 1981.

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