USDA Signs Cooperative Agreements with Washington, D.C., to Promote Economic Opportunities for Farmers and Producers, Expand Local Foods in School Meals
WASHINGTON, Dec. 2, 2022 — U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Mae Wu and Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Stacy Dean today announced cooperative agreements between USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service and Washington, D.C., under the Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program and the Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program. They were joined in the announcement by the District of Columbia Department of Health’s Nutrition and Physical Fitness Bureau Chief Sara Beck with the funding provided by these programs will enable DC Health and the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) to purchase locally and regionally grown, produced and processed food from underserved farmers, ranchers, and producers and distribute the purchased food to local communities and schools.
“USDA is excited to partner with Washington, D.C., to promote economic opportunities for farmers and producers and to increase access to locally sourced, fresh, healthy, and nutritious food in underserved communities and in schools,” said Deputy Under Secretary Wu. “The Local Food Purchase Cooperative Agreement Program and the Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program will improve food and agricultural supply-chain resiliency and increase local food consumption around the country.”
“Strengthening relationships between local producers and schools is a long-term strategy to ensure our children always have access to nutritious foods in school, a win-win for child health and American agriculture,” said Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Stacy Dean. “Through the Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program and many other efforts to support the school meal programs, USDA is committed to giving schools the tools they need to set children up to learn, grow, and thrive.”
“The most important chronic diseases – like diabetes and heart disease – can be prevented if people adopt healthy diets,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, Senior Deputy Director at DC Health. “This important investment will help increase access to affordable, healthy food for residents in need while supporting local farmers and producers.”
USDA’s Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program provides up to $900 million through non-competitive cooperative agreements to enable state, territory and tribal governments to support local, regional and underserved producers, and maintain or improve food and agricultural supply chain resiliency through the purchase of food produced within the state or within 400 miles of delivery destination. Funding for the program comes from the American Rescue Plan and the Commodity Credit Corporation.
Through USDA’s Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program, states can purchase and distribute up to $200 million in local and regional foods and beverages unique to their geographic area for schools to serve children through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs with the goal of improving child nutrition. The LFS cooperative agreements allow organizations the flexibility to design food purchasing programs and establish partnerships with farmers and ranchers that best suit their local needs, accommodate environmental and climate conditions, account for seasonal harvests, improve supply chain resiliency and meet the needs of schools within their service area.
Through both programs, DC Health and OSSE will increase the access to fresh, healthy, locally grown foods in underserved communities across the District of Columbia and will provide nutritious, healthy meals for students while introducing and teaching them about fresh, local produce while investing in small local businesses to cultivate a stable, thriving local food system.
USDA looks forward to continuing to sign agreements under these innovative programs.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.
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