WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has announced it has signed a cooperative agreement with Ohio under the Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program (LFPA). LFPA funding will enable Ohio to procure foods from local underserved producers and distribute those products to underserved, food insecure communities.
“USDA is excited to partner with Ohio to promote economic opportunities for farmers and producers and to increase access to locally sourced, fresh, healthy, and nutritious food in underserved communities,” said USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt. “The Local Food Purchase Cooperative Agreement Program will improve food and agricultural supply-chain resiliency and increase local food consumption around the country.”
The project will be led by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, in partnership with the Ohio Departments of Agriculture and Education and with the Ohio Association of Foodbanks (OAF). It is expected $11.7 million worth of in-demand products will be purchased from at least 50 local and underserved producers. As part of its project, the State of Ohio and its partners will incorporate intentional relationship building, training and technical assistance, evaluation and assessment, and sustainability planning to support long-term community agriculture resiliency and equitable food access.
Food distribution will focus on populations underserved by traditional food distribution networks, including rural households, older adults, people living with disabilities, and diaspora cultures, as well as populations experiencing or at-risk of chronic, diet-related diseases that may not have consistent access to nutritionally adequate foods. OAF will work with foodbanks and other providers to equitably and creatively distribute food to these populations. Foods sourced with LFPA funds will provide groceries to income eligible, underserved Ohioans at least 545,000 times.
“This collaboration is a wonderful way to help address two important issues with a viable, local solution,” said Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Dorothy Pelanda. “By linking Ohio’s underserved producers with food-insecure communities, we will be able to help our producers to get more of their quality, wholesome, local food to more people who need it. It truly benefits everyone, and we couldn’t be happier to be a part of this project.”
The LFPA program is authorized by the American Rescue Plan to maintain and improve food and agricultural supply chain resiliency. Through this program, USDA will award up to $400 million through non-competitive cooperative agreements with state and tribal governments to support local, regional, and underserved producers through the purchase of food produced within the state or within 400 miles of delivery destination.
AMS looks forward to continuing to sign agreements under this innovative program that allows state and tribal governments to procure and distribute local and regional foods and beverages that are healthy, nutritious, and unique to their geographic area.
More information about the program is available on AMS’s Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program webpage.