Those thinly-stocked shelves at grocery stores in recent days are a stark reminder of the vulnerability of Alaska’s food supply, 95 percent of which comes north by ship or barge. Supply disruptions due mainly to storms in the Pacific Northwest have created the latest scarcity in food stores.
A new federal program will help Alaskans grow more of their own food and while it will take a while to seriously dent the problem it’s at least a start. Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski announced Jan. 10 that $1.8 million in small grant funds is now going to Alaskans to jump-start garden projects and more will be coming next year, a result of the senator’s work on the 2018 federal farm bill.
Murkowkski helped create the new federal Micro-Grants for Food Security program in her work as senior member of the U.S. Senate appropriations committee. Alaskans, Hawaiians and citizens of U.S. Territories who are cut off from normal overland transportation of food, and who are vulnerable to supply disruptions, can apply for the grants.
Murkowski said the goal is to “increase the quality and quantity of locally-grown food in food insecure communities though small-scale agriculture-related projects.”
Applications are made though agriculture divisions of states and territories and last year Alaska’s Division of Agriculture received over 1,000 proposals, of which 234 were selected for funding by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s marketing service, according to Alaska’s agriculture director, Dave Schade.
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