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USDA creates $400 million local food program

To build resiliency into the food system, the Agriculture Department said on Monday it would award up to $400 million to state and tribal governments for purchases of locally grown food for emergency food assistance.

The Local Food Purchase Assistance program has a goal of buying food from socially disadvantaged farmers and putting it in the hands of underserved communities.

Funds could be spent over two years, said the USDA. The money is part of $1 billion earmarked this year for longer-term investments in transforming the food system, said the USDA. “One of the lessons from COVID-19 is that the current food system is too rigid, consolidated, and fragile. These cooperative agreements will help state, tribal, and local entities purchase food more efficiently from local producers and invest in infrastructure that enables partner organizations to reach underserved communities more effectively.”

In addition, the USDA said up to $50 million was available in “reach and resiliency” grants to expand access to The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) in rural, tribal, and other underserved areas.

Through TEFAP, the USDA purchases and donates food to food banks. Some $2.29 billion was allotted for TEFAP in fiscal 2021, including pandemic relief funds.

A Congressional Research Service report on TEFAP is available here.

The home page for the Local Food Purchase Assistance program is available here.

A fact sheet on the new local food purchase program is available here.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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