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PROVIDENCE, RI – Governor Dan McKee, The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) today announced it has signed a cooperative agreement with Rhode Island under the Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program (LFPA). Rhode Island’s LFPA-funded program aims to improve local farm viability and community health and wellbeing by purchasing locally grown products that will be distributed to underserved communities throughout the state.

“USDA is excited to partner with Rhode Island 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.”

“Rhode Island is proud to have Under Secretary Moffitt here today as we announce this historic new program with the Biden Administration through the American Rescue Plan,” said Governor Dan McKee. “These new resources will strengthen our local food system and get more fresh, locally grown food to all of our communities, but especially our underserved communities. We are grateful for our farmers in Rhode Island and will continue to facilitate new ways of creating sustainable, viable, and local agriculture that supports our food security.”

“DEM is committed to supporting a locally based sustainable food system that is resilient in the face of the many challenges such as the pandemic and supply chain disruptions caused by various events around the globe This grant award is a part of our mission to accomplish that goal,” DEM Director Terry Gray said. “We are committed to working with our many partners in Rhode Island and the region to achieve a food system that is equitable, just, and in particular focuses on the needs of socially disadvantaged communities and farmers. We are especially appreciative to USDA for the award and all the partners in Rhode Island who worked with us to put together the application.”

DEM will use LFPA funding to invest in resources to strengthen new and existing networks of producers, community organizations, and distributors to create a sustainable program. DEM will administer the program by subcontracting with Farm Fresh Rhode Island who will use its partnerships with nonprofit organizations to purchase food from local and underserved producers, such as refugee and immigrant farmers.

Food purchases will be distributed to underserved communities throughout the state by community-based organizations outside of the traditional hunger relief system. Over the next two years, it is anticipated $700,000 worth of locally grown products from 90 growers will be distributed to 62 community-based organizations serving approximately 35,000 individuals per month.

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 the 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.

For more information on DEM programs and services, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow DEM on Facebook, Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM), or Instagram (@RhodeIsland.DEM).

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