On May 14, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Local Foods, Local Places program announced the 16 partner communities it will support in 2020.
“(we are) committed to helping communities develop and strengthen their local food economy by investing in opportunity zones in often under privileged communities, some of which have been hard hit by the coronavirus outbreak,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.
“Support for local food initiatives can improve access to fresh foods, support farmers, grow new businesses, keep Americans healthy and improve the environment” he explained.
The selected communities are:
- Cottage Grove, Oregon (city of Cottage Grove)
- Evansville, Indiana (city of Evansville)
- Fayette, Alabama (Fayette County Extension Office)
- Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (Redevelopment Authority of the City of Harrisburg)
- Johnstown, Pennsylvania (Vision Together 2025)
- Kansas City, Missouri (Mattie Rhodes Center)
- North Lake Charles, Louisiana (SWLA Center for Health Services)
- Opelousas, Louisiana (Opelousas General Health System Foundation)
- Pelican Rapids, Minnesota (West Central Initiative)
- Poughkeepsie, New York (Hudson River Housing, Inc.)
- Redding, California (Healthy Shasta)
- Salisbury, North Carolina (city of Salisbury)
- Springfield, Illinois (city of Springfield)
- Vicksburg, Mississippi (Shape Up Mississippi)
- Woonsocket, Rhode Island (NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley)
- York, Nebraska (York County Development Corporation)
Here’s an example from that list. NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley of Woonsocket, Rhode Island will receive technical assistance intended to boost economic opportunities for their local food providers, while promoting clean air, safe water, open space, and healthy food choices.
NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley intends to leverage improvements initiated through a Main Street Livability Plan by redeveloping defunct mill sites undergoing brownfields clean up to establish downtown as a vibrant food hub and center for food entrepreneurs.
“EPA is excited to work with our Woonsocket partners once they’re ready to switch their focus from COVID-19 impacts back to developing a more robust local food economy,” said Dennis Deziel, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office.
“Our Local Foods Local Places program has shown impressive results helping communities to support their local farmers and food producers by maximizing local economic opportunities,” he added.
Later this year, a team of federal, state, and regional agricultural, environmental, public health, architectural and economic development experts will convene a workshop with the community to help develop an action plan, set goals, and identify local assets that can support the local food economy and contribute to downtown and neighborhood revitalization.
EPA says they will be flexible in working with the selected communities on next steps for the projects, considering that many communities are still dealing with issues related to COVID-19.
Photo of Woonsocket courtesy of the office of U.S. Senator Jack Reed.