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Agriculture Deputy Secretary Merrigan Awards $4.8 Million for Community Food Projects as Part of "Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food' Initiative

Funds Will Help Low-Income Communities Fight Food Insecurity by Building Local Food Systems

Media Contact: Jennifer Martin, (202) 720-8188

WASHINGTON, Sept. 16, 2009 – Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan today announced that $4.8 million will be awarded to local organizations in 14 states to build community food systems and fight hunger and food insecurity. This announcement comes as part of USDA’s ‘Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food,’ initiative, a department-wide collaboration that will connect people more closely with the farmers who supply their food and increase the production, marketing and consumption of fresh, nutritious food that is grown locally in a sustainable manner.

“Building local sustainable food systems to be proactive in fighting hunger and obesity is a priority for the Obama Administration, and USDA’s ‘Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative will help meet that goal,” Merrigan said. “These grants put funds in low-income communities that struggle with access to healthy food and they are an important step toward achieving our goal of having healthy, nutritious food available to everyone, especially children.”

The projects announced today will fund food policy council training, urban agriculture, new farmers on preservation farmland, promotion of native food sovereignty, youth, urban and rural food production projects and community food assessments.

The funding is being provided through USDA’s Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES) through the Community Food Projects Competitive Grant Program. Community Food Projects have been funded in 290 communities in 48 states during its 13-year history.

The primary goals of the Community Food Projects program are to (1) meet the food needs of low-income individuals; (2) increase the food self-reliance of low-income communities; (3) promote comprehensive responses to local food, farm and nutrition issues; and (4) meet specific state, local or neighborhood food and agricultural needs, including needs relating to infrastructure improvement and development, planning for long-term solutions and the creation of innovative marketing activities that mutually benefit agricultural producers and low-income consumers.
The FY 2008 Community Food Projects grants were awarded to:

  • Mvskoke Food Sovereignty Initiative, Inc., Okmulgee, Okla., $296,119
  • Local Agricultural Community Exchange, Barre, Vt., $175,479
  • Janus Youth Programs, Inc., Portland, Ore., $299,809
  • University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Alaska, $184,478
  • First Nations Development Institute, Longmont, Colo., $300,000
  • Community Food Security Coalition, Inc., Portland, Ore., $289,326
  • California Institute for Rural Studies, Davis, Calif., $25,000
  • Florida Certified Organic Growers and Consumers, Inc., Gainesville, Fla., $25,000
  • Southern Ute Community Action Program, Ignacio, Colo., $290,789
  • Chiricahua Community Health Centers, Inc., Elfrida, Ariz., $300,000
  • Plumas Rural Services, Quincy, Calif., $284,500
  • The Lower Eastside Girls Club of NY, New York, N.Y., $272,233
  • Sisters of Charity Health System, Lewiston, Maine, $25,000
  • United Methodist Ministries, Missouri River District, Lincoln, Neb., $297,582
  • South Side Community Land Trust, Providence, R.I., $298,967
  • Waipa Foundation, Hanalei, Hawaii, $276,079
  • Maine Farmland Trust, Belfast, Maine, $298,833
  • World Hunger Year, New York, N.Y., $250,000
  • Community Assistance Network, Crescent City, Calif., $25,000
  • Indian Health Care of Tulsa, Inc., Tulsa, Okla., $300,000
  • Mcintosh Sustainable Environment and Economic Development, Darien, Ga., $285,806


Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, CSREES focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people’s daily lives and the nation's future. For more information, visit


USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.  To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).