WASHINGTON, Oct. 11, 2022 — U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Mae Wu was joined by North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services Chief Deputy Commissioner David Smith in Durham, N.C., today to announce the signing of cooperative agreements between USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service and state under the Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program and the Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program. The funding provided by these programs will enable the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services to purchase locally and regionally grown, produced and processed food from underserved farmers and producers and distribute the food to local communities and schools.
“USDA is excited to partner with North Carolina to promote economic opportunities for farmers and producers and to increase access to locally sourced, fresh, healthy, and nutritious food in underserved communities and in schools,” said Deputy Under Secretary Wu. “The Local Food Purchase Cooperative Agreement Program and the Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program will improve food and agricultural supply-chain resiliency and increase local food consumption around the country.”
“We have the best agriculture industry in the world right here in North Carolina,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “It’s great to see this collaboration between state and federal government connecting farmers with schools to get students the healthy meals they need.”
“Creating more opportunities for North Carolinians to source local products from North Carolina farmers is beneficial all around, for consumers, farmers and our local food supply long term,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “We have long advocated and supported serving local foods in schools through our Farm to School program, and the addition of over $5.6 million through the federal Local Food for Schools Program is expected to strengthen and expand our efforts and allow schools to connect and develop relationships with socially disadvantaged farmers, small farmers and small businesses to the benefit of students, farmers and communities.”
USDA’s Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program provides up to $900 million through non-competitive cooperative agreements to enable state, territory and tribal governments to support local, regional and underserved producers, and maintain or improve food and agricultural supply chain resiliency through the purchase of food produced within the state or within 400 miles of delivery destination. Funding for the program comes from the American Rescue Plan and the Commodity Credit Corporation.
Through USDA’s Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program, states can purchase and distribute up to $200 million in local and regional foods and beverages unique to their geographic area for schools to serve children through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs with the goal of improving child nutrition. The LFS cooperative agreements allow organizations the flexibility to design food purchasing programs and establish partnerships with farmers and ranchers that best suit their local needs, accommodate environmental and climate conditions, account for seasonal harvests, improve supply chain resiliency and meet the needs of schools within their service area.
Through both programs, NCDA&CS will increase the access to fresh, healthy, locally grown foods in underserved communities across the state and will provide nutritious, healthy meals for students while introducing and teaching them about fresh, local produce while investing in small North Carolina businesses to cultivate a stable, thriving local food system.
USDA looks forward to continuing to sign agreements under these innovative programs.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.
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