$10,000 state grants available for projects that increase low-income access to locally grown fresh foods
Monday, March 12, 2012 - 9:16 am

As much as $10,000 is available for eligible projects that increase access to locally grown fresh foods by low-income and underserved communities across New York State.

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Darrel Aubertine says there is a total of $300,000 to support Governor Cuomo’s initiative, the Fresh Connect Program.

The goal of the Fresh Connect Program is to enhance the nutrition and economic health in New York State by supporting projects that connect underserved communities with New York farm products.

Eligible projects must increase access to fresh food in low-income or underserved communities, and can include, for example, new farmers’ markets, satellite youth markets, delivery systems for fresh produce, transportation for low-income individuals; a CSA-share type model for distributing produce, or forming new partnerships or programs to better connect low-income and underserved communities with New York farm and food products.

Local governments, regional markets, public benefit and not-for-profit corporations are eligible to apply, including farmers’ markets that participated in the Fresh Connect Program last year.

Successful applicants can receive up to $10,000 with a 25 percent matching requirement of cash or in-kind services.

Application information is available at http://agriculture.ny.gov/ or by calling (518) 457-2195. Applications are due into the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets by April 2.

The state is also offering Fresh Connect Checks, a nutrition incentive to encourage Food Stamp recipients to use their benefits at participating farmers’ markets by giving shoppers using Food Stamps a $2 coupon for every $5 of their Food Stamp benefit spent at the market.

Last year, during its pilot season, the Fresh Connect Program supported more than a dozen farmers’ markets in helping them to expand and better meet the needs by providing fresh produce to low-income or underserved communities.

Expanding fresh food access in underserved communities has been shown to improve nutrition and lower costs related to obesity and diet-related disease while fostering community and economic development.