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Funding Available to Help End Food Deserts and Improve Local Economies

The term “food deserts” refers to urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food. More than 23 million Americans live in food deserts, and this lack of access contributes directly to poor diets which can lead to obesity.

USDA and Let’s Move! are committed to ending these food deserts and keeping Americans healthy. One program making a difference in this area is the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP),which works hand-in-hand with farmers to grow the visibility and success of farmers markets, improving both farm revenue and American health.

We recently announced the availability of $10 millionunder FMPP to American farmers who can help us to secure better food for people all over the country.

Such grants are having an impact in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, where a small farmers market in Cleveland, Mississippi is bringing together a committed group of volunteers and community members.  Coordinated by the Center for Community and Economic Development at Delta State University, the Cleveland Farmers Market project has developed a market garden on 2 donated acres and added high-tunnel production.  The project is also teaching students in production skills and entrepreneurship, and providing community members with freezing, canning, and pickling techniques to preserve the harvest for year-round healthy eating.  Upgrades to market equipment and promotions supported by FMPP, along with increased production, have drawn in more vendors (up 57 percent), more customers (up 44 percent), and expanded the market season on both ends (spring and fall).

 Programs like these are making a difference in rural and urban food deserts and low-income areas.  If you think your community might be a good fit for these funds, don’t hesitate to check out details on the 2011 Guidelines. But act soon, the deadline for applications is July 1.