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A Regional Food Road Trip, with a New and Improved Compass

Screen shot of the newest version of the KYF2 Compass map.

Screen shot of the newest version of the KYF2 Compass map.

Today, I am proud to announce the release of a new version of the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass. But before I tell you what makes it new, I want to invite you to join us live at 3pm EDT to hear about it directly from me, from the White House, and from some of the many people whose stories are featured in the Compass guide and map.

At 3pm EDT, join us on a Google + Hangout broadcast at and on the White House Google + page. When you join, you’ll hear from women around the country who are working to build strong regional food systems. Theirs are just some of the many stories that we profile in the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass.

Today’s updates include new case studies on the Compass website and, perhaps most exciting, an improved map. The original version of the map showed USDA-supported projects related to local and regional food systems around the country. To that data, we have added additional projects. We’ve also added our databases of farmers markets, food hubs, meat processing facilities inspected by USDA, GreenSchools! school garden projects supported by the Forest Service, and state-level numbers on the use of nutrition program benefits like SNAP (food stamps) at farmers markets. As before, all of the data is downloadable.

You can now search the map by keyword or zip code radius to focus in on the issues that are most interesting to you. Are you working to develop a farm to school initiative? Click on the search tab, select “KYF projects,” and enter “farm to school” in the search box. You will see a list of projects that have received USDA support over the last few years. Clicking on a project will take you to their spot on the map, where you can read more about what they’re doing, which USDA program they applied to for funding, and how to find their contact information.

As I’ve explored the many stories in the Compass and on the map, I have noticed that women are playing a prominent role in many aspects of regional food systems. The number of women running farms in the U.S. has gone up by 30 percent since 2002; a full third of farm operators today are women, and many of them are engaged in regional sales. Women are also creating small food businesses, solving the challenge of getting local food into schools, buying local food for their children, and working with their communities to increase local, healthy food in people’s diets.

With that backdrop, today’s event highlights women leaders who are making a difference in local and regional foods. This issue is also an important component of the Obama Administration’s jobs agenda; regional food systems are helping drive job creation in many communities around the country. The White House is partnering with us on this event.

The women you will meet through the Google+ Hangout are innovative local food leaders in their communities. They include Cory Carman, a 4th-generation farmer in eastern Oregon; Chris Kirby, director of Oklahoma’s Farm to School initiative; Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Mayor of Baltimore City and co-chair of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Food Policy Council; Valerie Segrest of the Muckleshoot Tribe and the Muckleshoot Food Sovereignty Project in Washington State; Pam Roy of Farm to Table and the New Mexico Food and Agriculture Policy Council; and Sue Noble of the Vernon Economic Development Association in Wisconsin.  These women will inspire you to use the Compass, dive into the map and use local food to make your community stronger.

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