(Salem) — The Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) and Oregon Food Bank (OFB) today announced a $2.6 million investment in anti-hunger efforts through local food purchases. Part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program, the grant will significantly expand the food bank’s Community Grower Support Fund — investing in historically underserved producers while also addressing rising food insecurity in urban, rural and remote communities that have faced disproportionate hunger and poverty for generations.
"As communities in Oregon continue to be impacted by COVID-19 and the rising cost of food, we know that many are experiencing hardship and are struggling to get enough healthy food for themselves and their children,” said Jana McLellan, interim director of ODHS Self-Sufficiency Programs. "We are grateful to play a part in connecting individuals and families with fresh, nutritious food grown by local producers."
Authorized by the American Rescue Plan, Local Food Purchase Assistance provides opportunities for state and tribal governments to strengthen local and regional food systems. Through grants like the $2.6 million awarded to the Oregon Department of Human Services in partnership with the Oregon Food Bank and Oregon Department of Agriculture, the program supports farmers and producers to establish or expand partnerships with area food distribution networks.
"This grant is a triple win for Oregon communities: it allows us to strengthen local food systems, support producers of color and provide fresh, locally-grown food to people experiencing hunger,” said Oregon Food Bank CEO Susannah Morgan. “With as many as 1.5 million people seeking food assistance this year, government investments like these are critical to our shared effort to end hunger and its root causes."
Grant funds will provide a boost to local economies through expansion of the Community Grower Support Fund, which purchases food directly from socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers — a U.S. Department of Agriculture classification that includes groups that have been subject to systemic racial or ethnic prejudice. This locally produced food is distributed to urban, rural and remote underserved communities throughout the state. Funds will also improve storage and transportation infrastructure, helping to build more resilient local food systems for the long-term.