Organic Consumers Association

Campaigning for health, justice, sustainability, peace, and democracy

Harnessing USDA Rural Development Programs to Support Local and Regional Food Systems

This memo from USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen A. Merrigan describes how USDA programs could be put in the service of building local and regional food systems.

It includes the following vision of what this would look like:

Imagine an NGO receiving USDA grant money to construct a community kitchen where farmers drop off produce and families join cooking classes that teach about healthy eating while everyone prepares fresh nutritious meals to bring home... Imagine a community using USDA money to construct an open-sided structure to house a farmers market... Imagine a school using USDA loan money to set up cold storage as part of a larger effort to retrofit the school cafeteria to buy produce directly from farmers and return cooking capacity for school lunch... Imagine...

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