On January 25, 2016, on behalf of the White House Rural Council, six federal agencies joined together to announce the selection of 27 communities in 22 states that will participate in Local Foods, Local Places, a federal initiative that helps communities increase economic opportunities for local farmers and related businesses, create vibrant places and promote childhood wellness by improving access to healthy local food.
Developed as a partnership between USDA, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Transportation, the Appalachian Regional Commission, and the Delta Regional Authority, this initiative is part of the White House Rural Council‘s Rural Impact work to improve quality of life and upward mobility for children and families in rural and tribal communities.
“The community where a child grows up impacts her odds of graduating high school, health outcomes and lifetime economic opportunities,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This Administration has embarked on a different, locally-driven approach to empower homegrown solutions. Projects like these help us learn how to better coordinate and target federal assistance as we work with communities to ensure zip codes never determine a child’s destiny and every part of America prospers.”
“Local Foods, Local Places helps people access healthy local food and supports new businesses in neighborhoods that need investment,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “The program is good for the environment, public health and the economy. By helping bring healthy local food to market and offering new walking and biking options, Local Foods, Local Places can help improve air quality, support local economies, and protect undeveloped green space.”
“The United States is facing a growing population and demographic shifts that demand a transportation system prepared for the 21st century,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Local Foods, Local Places helps to promote investments in local roads and transit services that connect farmers, businesses, and residents further strengthening local economies and improving the quality of life in rural and urban communities.”
“Healthy food and regular physical activity are key ingredients to a long, productive life – but access to vegetables, fruits and walkable areas is limited for some,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD MPH. “The Local Foods, Local Places program can increase access to these important resources, and CDC is proud to support the expansion of this program in 2016.”
“Local Food, Local Places provides tools for Appalachian communities to make local food more impactful for local economies,” said Appalachian Regional Commission Federal Co-Chair Earl Gohl. “It’s exciting to see how community leaders leverage Federal support to build stronger and healthier economies across Appalachia.”
“One of the greatest opportunities we see in the Delta region is entrepreneurship and innovation in the agriculture sector. Delta communities have some of the richest farmland and experienced farmers in the world and thus a competitive advantage to develop impactful strategies to feed their residents and boost economic and community development,” said Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chair Chris Masingill, “We’re seeing impressive results from last year’s Local Food, Local Places communities and look forward to the innovative strategies these new communities will create.”
The 27 communities selected for 2016 were chosen from more than 300 applicants. Each Local Foods, Local Places (LFLP) partner community works with a team of experts who help community members recognize local assets and opportunities, set goals for revitalizing downtowns and neighborhoods, develop an implementation plan and then identify targeted resources from the participating federal agencies to help implement those plans.
Launched in 2014, LFLP has already helped 26 communities make a difference in people’s lives. With technical assistance through LFLP, participants are taking innovative approaches to common challenges, like launching business incubators to support food entrepreneurs and starting cooperative grocery stores to help revitalize main streets. They are developing centrally located community kitchens and food hubs to aggregate and market local foods. Through the integration of transportation and walkability planning they are connecting people to markets and local restaurants. Health outcomes are being targeted through school and community programs that teach children about nutrition, provide hands-on experience growing food and expand local markets and increase access to them through expanded use of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Local Food, Local Places is one of the Administration’s community-based initiatives in action across the country. In these places federal experts are working side by side with residents and local leaders to create customized solutions; bolstering coordination across agencies and improving how we interact with communities as a ‘one Government’ partner; and relying on valuable data to help inform solutions and evaluate what is working and what is not.
Image of plans for Kaka’ako Makai (selected Hawaiian community) by ELS Architecture.