When a community has a voice in food system decisions, and food markets fully benefit the community, food and nutrition security increases and agriculture becomes a strong economic stimulus.
Such is the foundation of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Community Food Projects Competitive Grant Program (CFPCGP), which increases food security in communities by bringing the whole food system together to assess strengths, establish linkages and create systems that improve the self-reliance of community members over their food needs.
Since 2017, CFPGP has funded nearly 100 projects and distributed more than $23 million to increase food and nutrition security. Last year, innovative funded programs across the nation worked diligently toward achieving this goal, including the following:
An Atlanta market improved customers’ access to healthy, affordable foods while creating new job opportunities. The market expanded from 2,400 to 3,600 square feet; increased produce inventory by 10%, meat by 65% and dairy by 55%; created two additional job opportunities; and provided residents a wider selection of healthier, fresh items. Sales increased 90% for meat and 85% for dairy, revenue growth that allowed the market to become less reliant on philanthropy.
California’s Planting Justice project collaborated with a local church to build a "pay-what-you-can" cafe, healthy foods marketplace, retail nursery, urban farm store and community center that created two full-time job opportunities for people with barriers to employment, in this case formerly incarcerated people. Eighteen community work parties have been held onsite, educating over 450 people on urban farming, sustainable landscaping and sustainable building technologies to support a more holistic, healthy and resilient urban food system.
Georgia’s Global Growers Network (GGN) provides community outreach and improved access to healthy, affordable food to communities that include refugees and low-income families. Last year, GGN registered 173 families at community gardens, hosted workshops for 55 growers and piloted an apartment garden. Trainings and garden tour videos reached 1,170 viewers.
Oregon’s Adelante Mujeres, a women-led nonprofit, is meeting the needs of low-income individuals through food distribution, nutritional education, training new and beginning community health workers, and managing sustainable farms to increase access to healthy food for communities of color. Last year, efforts resulted in an estimated 3,700 low-income family shoppers gaining access to fresh produce at eight local farmers markets and food pantries; 2,176 families redeeming COVID-19 food vouchers; 785 families redeeming Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Women, Infants and Children, or Senior Farm Direct Nutrition Program vouchers; and seven Latinx famers gaining access to new market opportunities.
Learn more about the purpose and goals of the program on the CFPCGP website.
Header photo courtesy of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center