July 30, 2015
On Wednesday, July 29, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded $4 million across 71 projects through the Rural Business Development Grants (RBDG) progarm. The program provides competitive grants to governmental entities, Indian tribes, and nonprofit organizations for planning, technical assistance, job training, and acquisition of land, capital, equipment and other business development needs.
Food Hub Project Profile
NSAC member organization, Republic Food Enterprise Center (RFEC), in Fayette County, PA, received $91,576 to convert 5,000 square feet of warehouse space into an energy-efficient cool room to allow for the storage and processing of fruits and vegetables. RFEC operates as a regional food hub in rural Fayette County to aggregate, store, process, market, and distribute produce and food products and promote the development of food enterprises in southwestern Pennsylvania.
The Center was developed in reaction to an examination of residents’ health, economic, and employment status, the current state of regional food systems, food product development opportunities, and the demand for local food products.
Currently, due to limited capacity, RFEC must limit the amount of produce that can be accepted into the facility for processing and/or value-adding. Because the produce can go bad quickly, RFEC cannot accept more produce than what can be processed immediately. The new cooling room, which will be adjacent to the commercial kitchen, will be used storage, cleaning, and processing of fresh, regionally sourced produce. The cooling room will allow RFEC to serve a greater number or regional farmers and entrepreneurs by providing for longer storage of fresh fruits and vegetables awaiting processing during the peak growing months.
Visit RFEC’s website for more information about its programs and services.
Some other farm and food related awards include an oat processing and marketing project in the Kennebec Valley region of Maine, a regional food shed project in northern Indiana, equipment for the Montgomery County’s (Tennessee) commercial kitchen, a feasibility study on connecting local farms and processors with commercial airlines in St. Lucie County, Florida, and a local food production and distribution project in the Northern Kingdom of Vermont.
You can download the full list of the 71 RBDG projects from the USDA website.
RBDG is a consolidation of two former grant programs: the Rural Business Opportunity Grant Program (RBOG) and the Rural Business Enterprise Grant Program (RBEG).
For more information on RBDG, including information on how to apply in the future, visit our Grassroots Guide to Federal Farm and Food Programs.