Obama Administration Selects 26 Communities, 7 in Delta region to Develop Local Food Projects

December 03, 2014

Local Foods, Local Places Initiative Encourages Creative Economic Development in 26 Communities in 19 States 

DELTA REGION -- Today, on behalf of the White House Rural Council, six federal agencies joined to announce 26 communities selected to participate in Local Foods, Local Places, a federal initiative providing technical support to integrate local food systems into community economic action plans. Under this effort, a team of agricultural, transportation, environmental, public health and regional economic experts will work directly with the communities to develop specifically identified local food projects.

Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman Christopher Masingill announced seven communities in four states that will be receiving Local Foods, Local Places technical support in the Delta region via conference call.  Projects in these communities will include efforts to create a local food network, establish a regional food innovation center and develop job training efforts around local food entrepreneurship.   

The following Delta communities will receive technical support from partner agencies in developing innovative programming to support local food systems development:

  • TUSKEGEE, AL: Tuskegee, Alabama will receive technical assistance to pursue a plan for economic development and food security through downtown revitalization and regional marketing initiatives.
  • FLIPPIN, AR: The Flippin School District in Flippin, Arkansas will receive technical assistance to transition chronically empty properties adjacent to the high school parking lot into a farmers market.
  • NORTH LITTLE ROCK, AR: The Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub and the community of North Little Rock, Arkansas will receive technical assistance to create a Regional Food Innovation Center. The center will increase downtown development opportunities by supporting food entrepreneurs and creating a market for local rural farmers.
  • OSCEOLA, AR: Osceola, Arkansas will receive technical assistance to connect the downtown historic district with local food opportunities.
  • NEW ORLEANS, LA: The Friends of Lafitte Corridor in New Orleans, Louisiana will receive technical assistance to create a permanent farmers market structure on its site, where farmers and gardeners growing food along the Lafitte Greenway can sell their harvest several times a week.
  • CLARKSDALE, MS: Clarksdale, Mississippi will receive technical assistance to develop a job training program based on vegetable farming and community gardens that will supply food for a farmers market and a café.
  • ITTA BENA, MS: Itta Bena, Mississippi will receive technical assistance to create a permanent grocery store and lasting local food network.

A complete list of communities participating in the Local Foods, Local Places Initiative is available on the White House Rural Council website.

"As a region historically centered on agriculture, it is important to strengthen and grow the local food systems that have supported the Delta communities and this country for centuries,” said DRA Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill. “The Delta Regional Authority is proud to support this innovative program which is in an investment into community health and economic growth for workers, businesses and families in the Delta region.” “The Local Foods, Local Places initiative illustrates that communities are thinking about creative ways to integrate local food in their community economic development plans,” said USDA's Deputy Under Secretary Doug O’Brien. “The projects developed via Local Foods, Local Places will revitalize rural Main Streets and urban downtown areas, and create market opportunities for food producers and entrepreneurs.”

“Our agencies are working together to make a visible difference in communities," said EPA Deputy Administrator Stan Meiburg.  "By promoting farmers markets, community kitchens, and other efforts to increase access to healthy food, we are supporting local businesses in struggling downtown neighborhoods and preserving farms and undeveloped land. It’s good for people’s health, good for the economy, and good for the environment.”

“The ‘Local Foods, Local Places’ initiative recognizes the relationship between available transportation and the health and well being of our communities. This collaboration provides local communities an opportunity to transform vacant spaces into vibrant spaces, which will provide better food options and better mobility for their residents," said U.S. DOT Undersecretary Peter Rogoff. Local Foods, Local Places is a partnership among USDA, EPA, U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  The initiative draws on the Administration’s Partnership for Sustainable Communities, USDA’s Seven Strategies for Economic Development and other place-based strategies to address regional challenges. The 26 Local Foods, Local Places communities were chosen from among 316 applicants. The initiative is jointly funded at $800,000. This amount, and the projects it will support, will make a significant impact in communities involved in the Local Foods, Local Places initiative.

USDA Secretary Vilsack identified strengthening local food systems as one of the four pillars of USDA's commitment to rural economic development, along with production agriculture (including expanding export markets and improving research), promoting conservation and outdoor recreation opportunities, and growing the biobased economy. Local Foods, Local Places is part of USDA’s commitment to support local and regional food systems. USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative coordinates the Department’s policy, resources, and outreach efforts related to local and regional food systems. The Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass maps nearly 3,000 local and regional food projects supported by USDA and eleven other federal agencies.  

About the Delta Regional Authority

The Delta Regional Authority is a federal-state partnership that is congressionally mandated to help create jobs, build communities, and improve lives through strategic investments in economic development in the 252 counties and parishes of the Delta region. The investments come through the DRA’s States Economic Development Assistance Program. Through the past twelve project cycles, the DRA has created and retained more than 17,000 jobs with 24,500 more projected. These investments have leveraged $2.7 billion in other public and private investment with DRA projects that are helping to train 26,000 for a 21st century workforce and have provided more than 25,000 families access to clean water and sewer services.

About the White House Rural Council

To address challenges in Rural America, build on the Administration's rural economic strategy, and improve the implementation of that strategy, the President signed an Executive Order establishing the White House Rural Council. The Council coordinates the Administration's efforts in rural America by streamlining and improving the effectiveness of federal programs serving rural America; engage stakeholders, including farmers, ranchers, and local citizens, on issues and solutions in rural communities; and promoting and coordinating private-sector partnerships. The work of the White House Rural Council and USDA to bring investment to rural America is an example of how the Administration is creating smart partnerships with the private sector to better support Americans in all parts of the country.

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