Wednesday, on behalf of the White House Rural Council, six federal agencies joined to announce 26 communities, including Itta Bena and Clarksdale, Mississippi, have been selected to participate in Local Foods, Local Places, a federal initiative providing technical support to integrate local food systems into community economic action plans.
Under this effort, a team of agricultural, transportation, environmental, public health and regional economic experts will work directly with the communities to develop specifically identified local food projects.
Project proposals include repurposing vacant land into local food production, developing year-round retail markets for local food products, and establishing food hubs to increase local food supply chains.
Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman Christopher Masingill announced Itta Bena and Clarksdale are two of seven communities in four states that will be receiving Local Foods, Local Places technical support in the Delta region via conference call.
The Itta Bena community will receive technical assistance to create a permanent grocery store and lasting local food network.
In Clarksdale, the community will receive technical assistance to develop a job training program based on vegetable farming and community gardens that will supply food for a farmers market and a café.
Local Foods, Local Places is a partnership among USDA, EPA, U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The 26 Local Foods, Local Places communities were chosen from among 316 applicants. The initiative is jointly funded at $800,000. This amount, and the projects it will support, will make a significant impact in communities involved in the Local Foods, Local Places initiative.