USDA announces $9 million to support Community Food Projects program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced the availability of $9 million in funding to assist low-income individuals and communities in developing local and independent food systems. NIFA is funding the grants through the Community Food Projects program (CFP), authorized by the Agricultural Act of 2014 (Farm Bill).

“Community Foods Projects provide the opportunity for low-income communities to become more self-reliant and take control of their own food systems,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, NIFA director. “These projects create food systems that are economically equitable and socially and environmentally sustainable, providing real solutions for communities most in need.”

Community Food Projects involve the entire food system. Projects assess strengths and establish connections among existing food systems, resulting in improved food systems that support self-reliance.

Grants are intended to help eligible, private, nonprofit entities in need of a one-time installment of federal assistance to establish and carry out multipurpose community food projects. Projects are funded from $10,000 to $300,000 and up to 36 months. All grants require a dollar-for-dollar match in resources.

Applications are due March 17, 2015. Please see the request for applications for specific program requirements.

CFP is an important part of USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, which works to strengthen and support local and regional food systems. More information on the initiative, including an interactive map of CFP and other federally-supported local food projects, can be found at: www.usda.gov/knowyourfarmer.

The primary goals of the Community Food Projects program are to (1) meet the food needs of low-income individuals; (2) increase the food self-reliance of low-income communities; (3) promote comprehensive responses to local food, farm and nutrition issues; and (4) meet specific state, local or neighborhood food and agricultural needs, including needs relating to infrastructure improvement and development, planning for long-term solutions and the creation of innovative marketing activities that mutually benefit agricultural producers and low-income consumers.

Since 2009, NIFA has provided more than $28 million to 154 Community Food Project awards in 48 states to help communities improve access to healthy, local food. Past projects include Philadelphia Green, which supports small-scale growers in their efforts to bring fresh, locally grown produce to the Philadelphia metro area, and RootDown LA, which is engaging Los Angeles-area youth in community gardens.

Funding for the CFP program is authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past six years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.

USDA Awards Funding for Regional Centers of Excellence in Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention

Source: Monique Bienvenue; Cal Ag Today Social Media Manager/Reporter

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded $4 million in grants to establish four regional centers of excellence for research on nutrition education and obesity prevention, as well as a coordinating center, which will develop and test innovative nutrition education and obesity prevention interventions for underserved, low-income families.

“Nearly one in three children today is overweight or obese, and nutrition promotion strategies, including education, public policies, health systems, and environmental changes, are the key to reversing this trend,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, Ph.D., National Institute of Food and Agriculture director. “These grants provide the opportunity to improve the health of our next generation and ensure that all children have access to the tools they need to improve their nutrition and physical fitness.”

Together, Food and Nutrition Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture will support effective education and extension services through two preexisting programs; the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education (SNAP-Ed) and the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP). This joint effort, known as the SNAP & EFNEP: Regional Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Centers of Excellence (RNECE) will establish centers at Colorado State University, Cornell University, Purdue University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and one national coordinating center at the University of Kentucky.

The National Coordination Center will coordinate communications across the four regions and disseminate findings. The national center will also aggregate data to share with policy makers and other stakeholders, and will work with NIFA to organize annual meetings with the regional centers. The interventions developed through the centers will likely benefit additional populations beyond SNAP and EFNEP participants.

The $4 million in funding supports USDA’s strategic goal of developing and extending a research-based approach to obesity prevention, ultimately producing measurable improvements in health, obesity, nutrition and physical activity-related outcomes.

“This joint grant program is one of the most important and powerful tools at our disposal to promote healthier choices and improved physical health among participants in our nutrition assistance programs,” said Food and Nutrition Service Administrator Audrey Rowe. “I am thrilled that we have been able to launch this partnership to drive innovation and increase our impact in preventing and reducing obesity.”

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service administers 15 nutrition assistance programs. In addition to SNAP, these programs include the National School Lunch and Breakfast programs and the Summer Food Service Program which together comprise America’s nutrition safety net. Improving the diets of participants is a key component of USDA’s nutrition assistance programs. For more information, visit www.fns.usda.gov.

 

Chairwoman Stabenow Applauds Appointment of Members to New Ag Research Foundation Board

Source: United States Senate Committee on Agriculture Nutrition & Forestry

Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today issued the below statement regarding the appointment of board members to the Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research – a new non-profit foundation created by the 2014 Farm Bill, which will leverage private and public funding to advance agricultural research.

The 15-member board of directors was officially announced today and is meant to represent the many diverse agricultural perspectives and voices and areas of expertise.

“This new Research Foundation is one of the most important victories in the Farm Bill,” Stabenow said. “We designed this foundation to leverage public-private dollars to continue making America the most productive and efficient agricultural producer in the world. America sets the gold standard for safe, abundant food production across the globe, and that’s largely because of a commitment to research and decades of investment in agricultural innovation and cutting edge practices. The appointment of board members is the first step in getting the new Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research up and running.”

Debby-Delmer1
Dr. Deborah Delmer

“Agricultural research today is a critical component in American–and global–health and security,” said Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon. “Senator Stabenow deserves great credit for her leadership in establishing the foundation in the Farm Bill, and the USDA’s choice of MSU’s Dr. Douglas Buhler for the foundation board adds a highly knowledgeable and experienced scientist and administrator.”

“We’re delighted to see the foundation up and running and proud that NCGA Chairwoman Pam Johnson will serve on the board of directors,” said National Corn Growers Association President Martin Barbre. “The new Foundation for Food and Ag Research promises to be an important tool for greater innovation in agriculture, especially as we face the challenge of feeding a growing population, and we are grateful for the leadership of Sens. Stabenow and Cochran for making this a priority in the 2014 Farm Bill.”

Under the leadership of Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member Cochran, Section 7601 of the Farm Bill created the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, a non-profit foundation that will raise private funds to match $200 million in public funds that will be  directed toward agricultural research.

The Farm Bill directed the Department of Agriculture to appoint board members who will guide the foundation’s research activities. The foundation will fund research collaborations between agricultural researchers from the federal government, institutions of higher education, land-grant universities and non-profit organizations.


The 15 members appointed to the Foundation board include:

  • Dr. Kathryn Boor – the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University
  •  Dr. Douglas Buhler – Director of AgBioResearch and Senior Associate Dean for Research for the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Michigan State University
  •  Dr. Nancy Creamer – Distinguished Professor of Sustainable Agriculture and Community Based Food Systems, North Carolina State University
  •  Dr. Deborah Delmer – Professor Emeritus of Biology, University of California-Davis
  • The Honorable Dan Glickman – former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, current Executive Director of the Aspen  Institute’s Congressional Program
  • Dr. Robert Horsch – Deputy Director, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Pamela Johnson – Chairwoman, National Corn Growers Association
  • Dr. Mark E. Keenum – President, Mississippi State University
  • Dr. Michael Ladisch – Director of the Laboratory of Renewable Resources Engineering and Distinguished Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Purdue University
  • Dr. Christopher Mallett – Vice President of Research & Development, Cargill, Inc.
  • Dr. Pamela Matson – Chester Naramore Dean of the School of Earth Sciences, the Richard
    and Rhoda Goldman Professor of Environmental Studies and Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for
    the Environment, Stanford University
  • Dr. Terry McElwain – Associate Director and Professor, Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health, and Executive Director, Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, Washington State University
  • Dr. Stanley Prusiner – Director of the Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases and Professor of Neurology, University of California-San Francisco and 1997 Nobel laureate in physiology or medicine
  • Dr. Yehia “Mo” Saif – Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University
  • Dr. Barbara Schaal – Professor of Biology at the College of Arts and Sciences, and Professor of Genetics at  the Medical School, Washington University at St. Louis

The five ex-officio board members, all of whom were designated by Congress, are USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack; Dr. Catherine Woteki, USDA’s Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics and
Chief Scientist; Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, Administrator of the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service; Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, Director of the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture; and Dr. France A. Córdova, Director of the National Science Foundation.

More information about the 2014 Farm Bill can be found here.