Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

USDA To Award $10 Million In Grants To Farmers Markets

The USDA hopes that providing funding to producer-to-consumer organizations will bring fresh food options to food deserts.

farmers market

Photo: NatalieMaynor (Flickr)

Can farmers markets bring healthy food to all areas of the country?

Aid To The Markets

The USDA announced it will award $10 million to the Farmers Market Promotion Program in the 2011 fiscal year.

The grant money will be given to producer-to-consumer organizations like farmers markets and community agriculture organizations that submit proposals that have the best projects targeted at bringing healthy food choices to food deserts will be given top consideration.

Deadline for proposal submission is this Friday.

An Oasis In The Desert

A food desert is an area with limited access to affordable and nutritious foods in urban, rural, and tribal neighborhoods. The USDA published an interactive electronic map of the country’s food deserts earlier this year.

This grant money is part of a joint effort of the USDA, the Treasury Department, and the Department of Health and Human Services to eliminate food deserts in the United States. It is funded through the Healthy Food Financing Initiative created by Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign. These departments believe that giving resources to grocery stores, small retailers, corner stores, and farmers markets will help bring healthy food into areas where it is currently difficult to find fresh produce.

Challenges Of Living In A Food Desert

One common type of food desert is a low-income area where community members must rely on corner stores and fast food chains for access to food. Grocery stores tend to avoid opening stores in these areas because there isn’t enough business to make it profitable.

Living in an area without access to healthy food raises a person’s chance of diet-related diseases like diabetes, cancer, and heart problems by 46 percent.

With food assistance programs like Women, Infants, Children under budget attacks, people living in food deserts will need more support than ever. These grants for producer-to-consumer initiatives may help fight food disparities in America.

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Julie Rooney

Julie Rooney is a vegetarian, musician, and artist who primarily works in video and new media. Currently she is the director of Low Road Gallery, a non-profit contemporary art gallery located in Greencastle, Indiana.

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