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Leveraging collaboration to tap into the potential of local foods


salad in a take out box with heart shaped produce cutout

Photo Credit: North Coast Opportunities’ Caring Kitchen Project

With farming being the root of the nation’s food supply, former President Barack Obama’s administration launched a federal Local Foods, Local Places (LFLP) program in 2014. This initiative was designed to help communities develop creative approaches to tap into their own food producers and bolster their region’s economy.

Spearheaded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the program has since provided direct, technical support and expertise on how best to integrate entrepreneurship, environmental management, public health, and other considerations, to more than 125 communities nationwide, to develop specific regional projects targeting access to local food. That includes farmers marketscommunity gardenscooperative grocery stores, and food hubs that improve environmental, economic and health outcomes.

“The program was a real boost for our community,” said Sherene Hess, Indiana County, Pennsylvania commissioner. Indiana County, located in west-central Pennsylvania, was one of 16 communities selected in 2018.

LFLP was born out of the former Livable Communities in Appalachia program, which was established to promote economic development, preserve rural lands, and increase access to locally grown food in Appalachian towns and rural communities. That program halted in 2014 and was replaced by LFLP, which continues the focus to support small towns and rural areas nationwide. Outside of the EPA and USDA, LFLP is supported by the Department of Transportation (DoT), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), and the Delta Regional Authority (DRA).

There are three phases within the LFLP program: plan, convene and act. In the planning phase, the community and federal agencies develop a steering committee to outline goals for the project and identify other community stakeholders for community-based workshops…

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