Friday, September 18, 2009

Green City Market Receives Grant from U.S. Department of Agriculture

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced 86 grants under the Farmers Market Promotion program, yesterday. Chicago's Green City Market was a big winner, receiving a $76,300 grant.

In total, an $4.5 million in funding was awarded to 86 groups as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 'Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food' initiative. Agriculture Secretary Vilsack announced the awardees of the 2009 Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) at the opening of the FRESHFARM Market by the White House on Vermont Avenue with First Lady Michelle Obama. Deputy Secretary Merrigan, who chairs USDA's 'Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food' initiative, was also in attendance at the event. Grants were awarded to encourage and support the viability of farmers markets and direct marketing projects nationwide.

"Farmers markets have an important role in local and regional food systems by helping consumers have access to healthy, nutritious foods," said Vilsack. "These grants will help continue the recent expansion of farmers markets across the country to increase access to locally grown foods for consumers, and increase incomes for farmers."

Vilsack emphasized that low-income consumers will particularly benefit through the program's emphasis on increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables through the use of electronic benefit transfers (EBT). This year, USDA exceeded its mandate to fund at least 10 percent of the total FMPP grant funds for new EBT projects at farmers markets.

Thirty of the 86 grants promote the use of new EBT projects, and funding directed towards new EBT amounts to a little more than 18 percent of the total being announced today. These projects will help increase access to locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables by low-income consumers using funds provided by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Through FMPP, USDA is committed to promoting local and regional food systems that help to boost local economics, eliminate child hunger, and increase access to fresh produce in low-income neighborhoods, thereby improving community health and nutrition.

Funds will be used to establish, expand and promote farmers markets and other direct producer-to-consumer marketing opportunities by eligible entities in 37 states. This announcement is just one component of USDA's 'Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food' initiative to help develop local and regional food systems and spur economic opportunity. By successfully restoring the link between consumers and local producers there can be new income opportunities for farmers and generate wealth that will stay in rural communities; a greater focus on sustainable agricultural practices; and families can better access healthy, fresh, locally grown food. A national directory of farmers markets is available at www.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets.

Note to Got Buzz readers: Kurman Communications president Cindy Kurman is a member of the Green City Market and has been on its board for 11 years.
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