F.R.E.S.H. New London will partner with a national organization that recently received a federal grant to promote increased local accessibility to fresh food.
Rep. Joe Courtney announced that Wholesome Wave has been awarded a $568,150 Rural Jobs and Innovator Accelerator Challenge grant through the United States Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration, the Appalachian Regional Commission, and the Delta Regional Authority.
Wholesome Wave is a nonprofit organization working in 28 states and the District of Columbia to "improve access and affordability of fresh, healthy, locally-grown produce to historically underserved communities," according to its website. The grant will be used to support local food hubs, and in Connecticut it will work with F.R.E.S.H. New London.
F.R.E.S.H. New London has been working since 2004 to improve fresh food accessibility in the city. Activities include a farm at the Waterford Country School; community gardens at the , the corner of Mercer Street and Williams Street, and ; and a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program.
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”This innovative, joint USDA/EDA funding to Wholesome Wave is especially helpful to New England farmers and food producers,” said Gus Schumacher, executive vice president of Wholesome Wave. “The demand for regional and local foods by schools, hospitals and colleges is growing exponentially. New food hubs are starting or expanding to meet this demand. Such hubs will generate additional revenue to the region’s farmers and food producers through aggregating their products. This federal funding couldn’t be more timely.”
“We are honored to have been selected by the USDA/EDA to help strengthen New England's regional food infrastructure,” said Michel Nischan, CEO and founder of Wholesome Wave. “This critical and timely support will make it possible for our Healthy Food Commerce Initiative team to work with and invest in promising ‘healthy food hub’ enterprises, giving them opportunities to expand their operations and build strong networks in a way that both stimulates local and regional New England economies and makes fresh healthy locally grown food more accessible and affordable for all.”
Courtney said the funding will improve Connecticut's health and support farmers in the eastern part of the state.
“By increasing access to financing and business assistance, this funding will help farmers grow their small businesses, secure their futures, and, in the long run, protect jobs here at home," he said.