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Got Questions on Local Food? Join Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan Next Tuesday and #AskUSDA

Based on the overwhelming participation in our recent Google + Hangout, we know you have lots of questions about local food in your community and what USDA can do to help.  Some of your questions may be like these:

I’m in Wisconsin and know USDA funded a grocery store featuring local food in Connecticut. How can I find out more?

How many local food projects does USDA fund in Wyoming?

I live in Maine. Who grows local produce in the winter here?

Where is the closest food hub that can help me with distributing my produce into my local school?

Well, you’re in luck! On Tuesday, July 24, 2012 at 1:30 pm EDT, USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan will host a live Twitter chat focusing on the Department’s support for local and regional food systems and the recent release of the 2.0 version of the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass.  During the live Twitter chat, Deputy Secretary Merrigan will answer YOUR questions about the Department’s work related to local food and ways the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass can assist your community.

You can send your questions on local and regional foods in advance to the @USDA Twitter account using hashtags #AskUSDA and #KYF2.

The Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass is a digital guide to USDA resources that support of regional food production.   Originally released in February 2012, the 2.0 version of the Compass guide contains new case studies of successful regional food projects, while the interactive map feature now includes data on food hubs, farmers markets, meat processing facilities and more, as well as data on USDA-supported projects in all fifty states.  The map is also searchable by key word and zip code, enabling users to zero in on the topics or regions that interest them most and see how USDA can help.

This Twitter chat is a follow-up to a Google + Hangout hosted by the White House and USDA on the same topic and is part of the USDA’s Virtual Office Hours, a monthly live question and answer series with USDA leadership.  Sessions are focused on a specific mission, issue or program as aligned with the Department’s strategic goals and based on stakeholder interests.

2 Responses to “Got Questions on Local Food? Join Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan Next Tuesday and #AskUSDA”

  1. Eddie Ezelle says:

    Hi:

    We are in Alaska and it is hard enough to grow food in our short season, but tougher still when we ship from the lower 48 states that do not seem to understand we are in America too. My question is why does the USDA not have a warehouse in Alaska? I understand we are the only state that does not have one. If we did, it might help the “boom-Bust” in food supplies to Alaska’s needful population: children, seniors and homeless that need good nutritous foods.

    Thank you,

    Eddie Ezelle
    Executive Director
    Food Pantry of Wasilla
    a 501(c)3 corp.

  2. Rebecca [USDA Moderator] says:

    Eddie:

    Thanks for your comment. Could you elaborate on the USDA warehouse?

    Alaska certainly has unique challenges. While the growing season is short, there are lots of things happening in-state to build regional food production to feed Alaskans year-round. Searching the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass Map for Alaska projects is a good place to start. You can also work with Alaska’s NRCS office to partner with a farmer using high tunnels to expand their growing season, which might be a source of fresh produce for food pantries. This blog post from the NRCS Alaska office explains how high tunnels are contributing to Alaska’s agricultural productivity. In addition, try contacting both the USDA’s regional FNS office for Alaska as well as the state’s Rural Development office. Both of these offices may have ways to continue supporting the state’s infrastructure needs.

    Thank you.

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