NSAC's Blog

Local Food System Community Planning Awards Announced

December 4, 2014

On December 3, the White House Rural Council, along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other agencies, announced 26 communities in 19 states chosen to take part in the Local Food, Local Places Initiative.  The new initiative provides technical support to help them develop and implement action plans promoting local food and downtown revitalization.

The 26 Local Foods, Local Places communities, which were chosen from among 316 applicants, will work directly with a team of agricultural, transportation, environmental, public health and regional economic experts to develop specifically identified local food projects. Project proposals include re-purposing vacant land into local food production and marketing centers (such as community gardens and farmers markets), developing year-round retail markets such as grocery stores for local food products, and establishing food hubs to increase local food supply chains.

In addition to the USDA, other agencies involved in the initiative are the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Transportation, the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Delta Regional Authority, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As we reported in an earlier blog post announcing the call for community applicants, Local Foods, Local Places builds on the tri-agency Livable Communities in Appalachia partnership, which selected five Appalachian towns to receive technical assistance and implementation support to build local food systems, promote economic development, and preserve rural lands. The initiative also draws on the Administration’s Partnership for Sustainable Communities, USDA’s Seven Strategies for Economic Development, and other place-based strategies to address regional challenges.

NSAC congratulates all 26 selected communities, a few of which are highlighted below:

  • The Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub and the community of North Little Rock, Arkansas will receive technical assistance to create a Regional Food Innovation Center that will support food entrepreneurs and create a market for local rural farmers.
  • Hazard, Kentucky will receive technical assistance to establish and sustain the Eastern Kentucky Food and Farm Hub, a local food aggregation and distribution center located in the downtown that will serve the area within a 50-mile radius.
  • The Choctaw Nation in Idabel, Oklahoma will receive technical assistance to showcase local food with nutrition education in conjunction with the creation of a downtown farmers market.
  • The Rodale Institute near Allentown, Pennsylvania will receive technical assistance to create a strategic plan to transform Allentown into an urban agricultural center that includes a citywide network of community gardens, farmers markets, and programming to promote healthy living and eating.

Following USDA’s announcement earlier this week of the third round of Farm to School grant awards, yesterday’s joint announcement about Local Foods, Local Places demonstrates that USDA continues to be committed to “strengthening local food systems,” one of the four pillars of rural economic development identified by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. For more on USDA programs supporting local and regional food systems, see these pages in the NSAC Grassroots Guide to Federal Farm and Food Programs.





Categories: Local & Regional Food Systems, Rural Development

2 responses to “Local Food System Community Planning Awards Announced”

  1. Brian Moyer says:

    Is Rodale planning on working with anyone in the area who has already been doing this work for several years (Penn State Extension, Buy Fresh Buy Local Greater Lehigh Valley)?

  2. NSAC says:

    Great question- we’re hoping they are but your best bet would be to ask them directly, as we have not spoken to them about their project. Here is their website and number: http://rodaleinstitute.org/ and (610) 683-6009.