NEWS: Delta communities receive Local Foods, Local Places awards to strengthen local food systems

January 29, 2016

CLARKSDALE, Miss. – The Obama administration has announced that five Delta communities are among the 27 national Local Foods, Local Places awardees for 2016. Through the federal Local Foods, Local Places Initiative designated communities will receive technical support to identify successful strategies for integrating local food into their community development efforts and create economic opportunities for local farmers and food entrepreneurs, revitalize main streets, and increase access to healthy food.

“One of the greatest opportunities we see in the Delta region is entrepreneurship and innovation in the agriculture sector. Delta communities have some of the richest farmland and most experienced farmers in the world and thus a competitive advantage to develop impactful strategies to feed their residents and boost economic and community development,” said Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill.

The 2016 Local Foods, Local Places awardees were chosen from more than 300 applicants nationwide. Once the planning process is complete, Delta Regional Authority will work with communities to identify funding for implementation of the community development plans. The 2016 Delta communities include:

  • Lake Village, Arkansas: Will grow the city’s community garden, expand worksite wellness programing for local businesses, and connect its parks with new trail systems to improve local food access, promote active living, and stimulate economic development.
  • Gainesville, Missouri: Ozark County Homegrown Food Projects plans to start a community garden in the city park and open a community kitchen and food shop in Gainesville Square.
  • Jackson, Tennessee: Plans to create a school-based farmers market using food from the local high school’s garden and to connect the West Tennessee Farmers Market with surrounding neighborhoods to improve local food access and increase economic opportunity for farmers.
  • Martin, Tennessee: Will receive technical assistance to launch a “Using Food to Build Community” forum to facilitate regular communication between local food producers and consumers, and encourage collaboration and knowledge sharing between different groups.
  • Memphis, Tennessee: Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market will receive technical assistance to develop a permanent, versatile, and more accessible space to host its farmers market and serve as a public square for the city.

Each Local Foods, Local Places partner community works with a team of experts who help community members recognize local assets and opportunities, set goals for revitalizing downtowns and neighborhoods, develop an implementation plan, and then identify targeted resources from the participating federal agencies to help implement those plans.

Developed as a partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Appalachian Regional Commission, and the Delta Regional Authority, this initiative is part of the White House Rural Council’s Rural Impact work to improve quality of life and upward mobility for children and families in rural and tribal communities. 

“The community where a child grows up impacts her odds of graduating high school, health outcomes and lifetime economic opportunities,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This Administration has embarked on a different, locally-driven approach to empower homegrown solutions. Projects like these help us learn how to better coordinate and target federal assistance as we work with communities to ensure zip codes never determine a child’s destiny and every part of America prospers.”

Launched in 2014, LFLP has already helped 26 communities make a difference in people’s lives. Last year’s communities include North Little Rock, Arkansas, which is developing a food innovation hub in the downtown Argenta district, Clarksdale, Mississippi, which is creating a downtown farmers market and training residents for local-foods based jobs, and Tuskegee, Alabama, where a new farmers market, community garden, and food processing space have been integrated into downtown revitalization plans.

About the Delta Regional Authority

The Delta Regional Authority is a federal-state partnership created by Congress in 2000 to help create jobs, build communities, and improve lives through strategic investments in economic development in 252 counties and parishes across eight states. Learn more at dra.gov.

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Spencer Lucker
(202) 434-4842
slucker@dra.gov