The U.S. Department of Agriculture and fifteen philanthropic organizations have announced an initiative to bolster the supply chain for locally produced food in ten U.S. cities and regions.
With $2 million from philanthropic partners and $850,000 in federal funding, the Food LINC project will work to strengthen each region's local food business sector and increase consumer access to healthy, locally produced food by connecting farmers, ranchers, and entrepreneurs with families and institutional consumers. A full-time Food LINC coordinator will be embedded for up to three years in a host organization in each of the ten cities/regions. Cities or regions participating in the initiative include Albuquerque, New Mexico; Atlanta, Georgia; Central Appalachia; the Chesapeake region; the Delaware Valley region; Jackson, Mississippi; Louisville, Kentucky; Memphis, Arkansas and northwest Mississippi; Pueblo/Colorado Springs, Colorado; and Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina.
Philanthropic partners include the Gates Family, Oak, One, Schmidt Family, Surdna, Thornburg, Town Creek, and Z. Smith Reynolds foundations; the Prince Charitable Trusts; the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust; the Duke Endowment; the Agua Fund; RSF Social Finance; CoBank; and the Kentucky Agricultural Development Board.
"USDA, the Appalachian Regional Commission, and the Delta Regional Authority recognized that our investments in local food infrastructure have the most success in communities with strong coordination between producers, food purchasers, and access to shared resources. Food LINC aims to replicate that coordination in ten cities to create market opportunities for the areas' producers, meet demand for locally produced food, and create or sustain jobs along that local supply chain," said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. "With the help from our partners, USDA can 'supercharge' our resources to create lasting impacts for farmers, ranchers, and rural communities as a whole."