The US Department of Agriculture has awarded the City a $470,000 Local Food Promotion Program Implementation grant to help fund portions of a food plan it adopted in 2015. The City is working with multiple partners on this project:
- Guilford County Cooperative Extension Office, which will provide training in food safety for those using a newly created Shared Use Kitchen and on new Good Agricultural Practices certification standards.
- Greensboro Farmers Market, which will offer space at its facility for new entrepreneurs and provide assistance with marketing and business planning
- Out of the Garden Project, which will use its community kitchen for food education programming and to support new food businesses
- University of North Carolina at Greensboro, which will conduct a survey to pilot-test a community-based food security instrument and evaluate project implementation.
The City will administer funds and coordinate efforts among the project partners These activities implement portions of the Fresh Food Access Plan adopted by the City in 2015 (see below).
The City's Fresh Food Access Plan focuses on increasing retail access to fresh, local produce in Greensboro’s food deserts.
The plan was made possible by a grant from a US Department of Agriculture (USDA) program aimed at supporting local food business enterprises that connect farmers with consumers. This includes expanding entrepreneurial opportunities both for local farmers and residents interested in starting local food-related businesses.
The Fresh Food Access Plan takes into consideration all parts of the food system, though it does not contain recommendations for helping feed people with immediate needs. The focus is on strengthening the local food system with elements that are economically viable and sustainable as business enterprises, particularly in food deserts.
All this is one step in a long journey to a healthier food system for Greensboro and the region.
The plan’s key findings include:
- Consumers in food deserts have access to a variety of convenience stores that do not carry healthful food options. Programs that encourage these stores to stock fresh produce require a comprehensive and careful approach to be successful.
- Greensboro is lacking in local food business enterprises that connect growers with consumers, such as food hubs, commercial kitchen space, and local-food distributors.
- A wide variety of community groups are working together to feed those affected by food scarcity and a wide range of tools are becoming available to help do this more efficiently.
- Despite the fact that agriculture is an important industry in NC, there are few economic incentives for farmers to grow produce for local sales. Most of what is grown are commodity crops.
- Consumers need to be better educated on how to prepare and cook fresh produce.