January 26, 2013

Ozarks Regional YMCA, Springfield Urban Agriculture Coalition Receive Grants to Support Local Foods

Missouri Director of Agriculture Dr. Jon Hagler awarded Ozarks Regional YMCA and Springfield Urban Agriculture Coalition grants to promote local foods in southwestern Missouri. The grants, from the Missouri Department of Agriculture's Local Foods Matching Grant program, support efforts to increase the availability of local produce and educational resources for southwestern Missouri residents interested in learning to grow their own vegetables and fruits.

"Through the Local Foods Matching Grant Program, we are able to connect local organizations and individuals to the resources they need to make a difference for their communities," Dr. Hagler said. "Just as these outstanding groups are supporting their neighbors, it is important that we help them make the most of the resources available among their members, within their communities and in our state."

Grant funds may be used for a number of efforts to support and promote local foods, including for the creation of a farmers' market or the expansion of an urban or community garden. Grant funds may also be used to promote youth initiatives that combat hunger, poor nutrition and obesity in collaboration with community gardens or farmers' markets.

Ozarks Regional YMCA and their partners will develop and promote curriculum that introduces children of all ages to a farm-to-table experience using the grant. The curriculum will include information on nutrition, local foods, nature and science. Working with local universities, grant funds will be used to purchase kitchen equipment, including a food scale, for educational materials and to develop a marketing campaign to benefit local foods.

Springfield Urban Agriculture Coalition's Dig In R-Twelve Program includes 10 school gardens and works to promote the benefits of growing and consuming locally grown food. Students will learn about growing vegetables in school gardens supported by the grant. The Springfield Urban Agriculture Coalition's program will donate produce from the gardens to be used for students' culinary lessons and to the Ozarks Food Harvest Back Pack program.

This is the second year for the Local Foods Matching Grants program. Grant recipients may receive up to $5,000, and must provide a 50 percent match to the grant funds. The match may include cash, as well as labor, equipment and other in-kind contributions. A total of eight grants were awarded. Other recipients include Kansas City Community Gardens and Metro Lutheran Ministry in the Kansas City area and Gateway Greening, Green's Country Store, Northside Youth and Senior Services Center and Our City Farm in the St. Louis area.

To learn more about the Missouri Department of Agriculture and its programs, visit the Department online at mda.mo.gov.


Note: Photos from the grant presentation are available online through the Department's Flickr stream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/moagriculture/sets/72157632617028806/with/8416295379/.