In June, the White House Rural Council, on behalf of U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, announced Local Food, Local Places—a federal initiative to provide technical support to rural communities to build stronger local food systems. Local communities will have assistance directly from a team of experts in agriculture, transportation, environment and economy. The program is designed to help boost community moral, especially rural communities. By focusing on preserving rural lands, boosting local economies, and giving residents better access to healthy food, the program is designed to help communities in need the most.
Between several agencies that are supporting local foods and promoting livable places, US$650,000 has been invested to help local farmers and businesses improve access to healthy local food, especially those living in food desserts. The funding will also help support farmers markets, food hubs, community kitchens and gardens.
It was also announced that U.S. school districts around the country purchased more than US$386 million from local farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and food processing and manufacturing companies between the 2011-2012 school year. These results were from the USDA Farm to School Census. It also found that a reported 13 percent of school districts have plans to implement local food purchasing the in future.
Secretary Vilsack identified the importance of strengthening local food systems. “Buying locally is one of the best things a community can do to grow its economy. Partnerships like Local Food, Local Places help rural leaders develop strategies for promoting farm products grown by people right in their own communities,” said Vilsack.
Communities across the U.S. are eligible to apply. A two-page letter of interest describing the community’s needs and goals as they relate to local food and revitalizing the downtown and traditional neighborhoods must be submitted by email to Ed Fendley at firstname.lastname@example.org by July 15, 2014.