"USDA investments in regional food have the biggest impact when coordination between producers, processors, distributors and buyers is strong and locally led," said Salerno. "We are excited to add three new locations to the nationwide network of cities that are already leveraging government and private resources to build robust regional food systems, for the benefit of consumers, producers, and the economy."
USDA Food LINC (Leveraging Investment for Network Coordination) partnerships are already working in ten communities to better connect the urban demand for local food and agricultural products with the supply from regional farmers, ranchers and entrepreneurs. USDA's initial investment of $1 million provided the seed capital to attract an additional $2.5 million from 18 philanthropic organizations, plus more than $1.5 million from the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Delta Regional Authority. This expansion establishes partnerships in three new regions:
- The Texas Center for Local Food will help farmers in the Elgin, Texas region receive more for their products, support good jobs in rural communities and improve access to locally-produced food. A town of 8,000 people, Elgin is centrally located within a 200-mile radius of nearly 18 million Texans, making it an ideal production and transportation hub for the region.
- Food Commons Fresno will incubate a community food hub and grocery store in South Fresno, a community education space and a processing and distribution facility to develop markets for agricultural producers in California's San Joaquin Valley.
- FamilyFarmed will help producers from the Midwest take advantage of Chicago's growing demand for regionally-sourced, sustainably-grown specialty grains.