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Farmers Markets: An Investment in Fresh Food

Cross posted from the Let’s Move! blog.

An integral part of the Let’s Move! initiative is gaining a critical boost when it comes to solving the challenge of childhood obesity and improving the health and nutrition of all Americans.  Today, USDA is proud to announce new investments that will help connect farms with families at the local level by providing grants to local farmers markets, producers, and farmers. Farmers markets across the country help families make the right choice when it comes to fresh produce and foods by bringing their harvest right to our communities.

This year, USDA’s Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) is announcing over $4 million in grants to 77 projects in 34 states. From a farmers’ market in New York City’s Harlem, to a cooperative urban farm in Philadelphia, to a refrigerated truck for low-income growers in Oakland, CA, USDA grants will make a difference in bridging the gap between producers and consumers, and in making fresh fruits and vegetables accessible to families all across the nation.

Over the past five years, this grant program has awarded over $14 million to local farmers so they can grow their income and grow their ability to make fresh, healthful food available to more families across the country – particularly in underserved communities.   The First Lady and Chef Sam Kass noted FMPP’s important role in our country’s efforts to expand access to fresh, healthful food at the official opening of the White House Farmers Market last year.

This year’s FMPP awardees illustrate the Obama administration’s continued commitment to making fresh, local, and healthy food available to consumers, regardless of income. Over $1 million of this year’s awards will specifically go to projects that support Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) machines at farmers’ markets so that families on Supplemental Assistance Nutrition Program (SNAP) can use their benefits at farmers markets across the United States.  Nearly $2.6 million in funding will go to projects bringing more and better choices to areas that lack easy and affordable access to healthful, local foods in rural and urban communities alike. And more than 60 percent of FMPP awards for FY 2010 will provide communities with improved access to nutritious and farm-fresh foods through direct-marketing of local agricultural products.

The Farmers Market Promotion Program is a terrific example of how the USDA and the Obama administration help regional farmers connect with local consumers to make fresh, healthful food available to all. This is just one more way we can help families make the easy choice when it comes to eating better, and getting healthy.

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