Some of the most passionate advocates for USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service are our partners across the country. I realized that when I sat down yesterday with our hunger fighting partners in rural Greeley, Colorado. The town sits in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains in Weld County, among some of the richest, most productive farmland in the west. It’s a massive 4,000 square mile county where cattle, grain and sugar beets are king.
Yet in the midst of the beauty and bounty, I was struck by the fact that 25,000 people here are in need. So United Way of Weld County brought together more than two dozen local agencies that all have a common goal: to strengthen their community by reducing hunger and promoting health.
We talked about what’s working and what could be improved. Support is strong here for agriculture from seed to store.
They talked about the economic benefits of farming, the healthy benefits of eating fresh fruits and vegetables and the desire to feed the hungry as equally important goals.
On the same day we spoke, those goals got a boost when USDA announced a grant initiative to increase the number of
farmers’ markets participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) while reducing the administrative burden of processing these benefits.
With the farmers’ market grants, my colleagues in Greeley expressed their gratitude that a piece of the hunger puzzle might be solved. But they also saw much more work to do and they just kept going. It was clear to me when we finished that this dedicated group realizes that collaboration is an absolute necessity for progress.