In 1993, Governor Carnahan established the Family Investment Trust as a state-level entity. The name of the organization was changed to Family and Community Trust (FACT) by Executive Order of Governor Bob Holden in April 2001. FACT provides leadership in collaboration with Community Partnerships to improve families, children, individuals, and communities; and to encourage collaboration among public and private community entities to build and strengthen comprehensive community-based support systems. The goal is to enhance the well-being of children, which is inseparable from the well-being of their families and the stability and economic viability of the communities where they live.
These 20 Partnerships serve as an “arm” of the Department of Social Services (DSS) in the local communities. The Partnerships administer or provide a multitude of community programs, such as homeless shelters, employment and training programs for low-income persons, mentoring programs, parenting programs, adolescent programs, elderly and disabled resources, and others.
DSS coordinated with FACT regarding the grant application. FACT shared the information and held virtual meetings with the Partnerships regarding the opportunity. While the grant is being approved by USDA, the Partnerships will begin local planning with stakeholders including distribution, production, and potential distribution sites. The and develop the local agreements on local supply and demand, nutritional needs, partnership development, distribution, and outcomes. After grant approval, DSS will enter into agreements with the Community Partnerships.
The networks established as a result of this project will vary based on the region, availability of quality food, and desire for food. DSS expects that the network will include producers, Community Partnerships, Lincoln University, Food Banks, University of Missouri Extension, hospitals, and local non-profits, to strengthen its service to under-served communities. Community gardens may also be included depending on their production ability. Community gardens have become an effective tool in addressing public safety, neighborhood interaction and cohesion, as well as strengthening mental health for participants. The COVID Pandemic highlighted the food deserts located in rural Missouri.
The purpose of this grant will further identify those under-served communities and develop new routes of food distribution to address those needs. By collaborating, the Community Partnerships can leverage their networks to strengthen existing distribution routes, and to identify new routes, providing better coverage for Missourians.
DSS contacted producers who were minority owned and/or employ minority populations. These producers purchase from local and national farmers. The time of the season determines if purchases are local or not, especially, with the growing season in Missouri is roughly June through October. In identifying the local farmers, producers use different methods: recruitment through social media, referrals from other local farmers, working with networks like Missouri Coalition for the Environment, farming conferences such as Lincoln University events, and they have a dedicated buyer who focuses on sourcing local products. The University of Missouri also has a list of local farmers and they will assist in the communication and collaboration.