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The Farmers Market Promotion Program is Feeding Healthy Communities

Fresh, nutritious food is a cornerstone of a community’s physical health, but community health is more than physical well-being. A vibrant, healthy community encompasses both the well-being of consumers through improved health, and the well-being of producers through improved economic outcomes. Making this connection, and providing healthy, affordable food supplies, are goals of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative. These goals are also key to the Agricultural Marketing Service’s Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) and a growing network of nontraditional partners across the U.S. aiming to address this common problem – access to affordable, fresh, healthy food. These partners include growers and producers hoping for stable farm income; consumers and health practitioners hoping for fresher, healthier food choices; and economic development proponents hoping to expand opportunities for sustainable communities. The FMPP brings together these diverse but interconnected viewpoints. With this year’s grant awards, FMPP is again supporting a wide range of projects designed to meet these goals and change the food desert landscape of America’s low-income and underserved communities. On the supply side, FMPP helps local and under-resourced producers strengthen their distribution networks and infrastructure to develop and promote their markets. This translates into more customers and more income. On the demand side FMPP provides funding for consumer education and outreach as well as for direct-market vendor training and equipment that reaches the highly-untapped consumer base of Federal nutrition assistance program participants. From the boroughs of New York City to remote Alaskan villages, FMPP provides funding for increased food access in low-income neighborhoods while promoting self-sufficiency in community food supplies. Through community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs, new farmers markets, mobile farm-stands, or any number of alternative food networks, FMPP allows small- and mid-sized producers to create and expand markets while promoting increased consumption of fresh, local foods. At a time when nearly 43 million Americans are participating in the Federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, FMPP plays a crucial role in supporting both healthy food choices and more producer income. Almost two-thirds of FMPP’s awards for fiscal year 2010 support projects in low-income and underserved communities. Take a look and be inspired.