Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded $40 million in grants to boost local food supplies.
While not as widespread as in other countries, food insecurity is still a problem in the United States. In 2010, nearly 15 percent of American households were food insecure. Food security is largely based on two criteria; sufficient quantities of food available on a consistent basis, and having sufficient resource to obtain nutritious food.
The grants were distributed to a wide variety of farms and businesses. Significant funding went to small businesses to help expand their clientele and expand their production. For example, a hydroponic farm south of Chicago, a berry farm in Virginia, and an organic creamery in Vermont all received grants to “promote small business expansion and entrepreneurship opportunities by providing local businesses with access capital, technical assistance and new markets for products and services.”
In addition to small business expansion, the grants were focused on expanding urban food supplies. Urban centers often contain the large food deserts, areas of consistent food insecurity. Several of the grants awarded were to urban farmers, who transform abandoned urban land into small, local farms. In addition to feeding local residents, urban farms help ease unemployment in economically depressed urban centers.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer