Saturday, August 13, 2022

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Infrastructure funding is on its way, ranchers anticipate money from the Inflation Reduction Act, and rural America is becoming more diverse, but you wouldn't know it by looking at the leadership.

Maine Seeks Proposals to Increase Access to Local Food

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Monday, May 23, 2022   

Maine is seeking proposals for a grant opportunity to support local food producers and production and assist low-income residents in accessing local food.

A bill passed and signed into law last year allocated $25,000 to provide incentives for residents receiving food and nutrition benefits to purchase locally grown fruits and vegetables, and increased outreach about them.

Genna Cherichello, Maine Senior FarmShare program manager for the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, said nutrition incentives are critical because local producers often have higher costs than large agriculture corporations.

"It creates a little bit more freedom for folks on these food and nutrition assistance programs to select local food if they want to," Cherichello explained. "It also is an additional funding stream for our local producers."

Cherichello added the state dollars may also be used to leverage additional federal, local or private funding, for opportunities that require a match.

Maine's Climate Action Plan includes a goal of increasing local food production from 10% to 30% by 2030, to support farmers, fishing and aquaculture harvesters, as well as make communities more resilient.

Cherichello added it is an exciting opportunity to bring state support to organizations and programs that have been around for years and know their communities' needs.

"If your organization works with local food producers, or low-income folks who receive food and nutrition assistance, and you're interested in expanding your existing efforts to connect those low-income people with food grown in Maine, we would all love to see your application," Cherichello stated.

Groups doing such work in Maine include Farm Fresh Rewards, which is run through the Good Shepherd Food Bank, and Maine Harvest Bucks, with the Maine Federation of Farmers' Markets. Applications for the grant opportunity are due in less than a month, on June 21st.


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