MCE Receives USDA Grant to Expand Farm-to-Institution in St. Louis
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: October 4, 2017
Contact: Melissa Vatterott, Food and Farm Director, (314) 727-0600, ext. 111, [email protected]
Missouri Coalition for the Environment (MCE) was selected as a recipient for the USDA Local Food Promotion Program. They will receive approximately $45,000 to support local food efforts in the St. Louis region. MCE convenes the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition (STLFPC), a stakeholder group of organizations working in community development, urban farming, food access, public health, local food sales, and the environment. STLFPC’s mission is to promote a thriving local food system that supports the community, health, environment, and economy of the Greater St. Louis area.
The grant provides funding to increase purchasing of local food by public institutions. MCE will conduct a study to identify, assemble the resources, and connections needed to build the system of sourcing of products to area institutions, and thereby increase product sales and local food access for consumers. Some of the short-term impacts include an increase in farmers understanding of the potential profitability of selling locally produced food to institutions as well as for increased understanding of Fair Shares CCSA of the potential for helping member farmers reach new markets. Project staff will specifically assess the 1) demand of locally sourced agricultural products from institutions; 2) regulatory demands of farmers with Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) certification training; and 3) available and potential supply from area farmers, including standardization of agricultural products in order to aggregate from farmers of various sizes, defining 10 target agricultural products area farmers can produce to meet the large volume requirements of institutions, and researching models for transportation of products and traceability back to the farmer for consumer awareness. Additionally, the study will promote the farmer narrative to institutions.
“This funding will help us better understand how to meet market demands with local food products,” said Melissa Vatterott, Food and Farm Director at MCE.
“MCE has taken the initiative, through the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition, to engage in conversations with us and other farmers in the St. Louis region about how to grow their farm business and reach new markets, such as institutions,” says Holly Buck, owner of Rosy Buck Farm in Beaufort, Missouri. “We trust MCE to conduct the necessary outreach and information collection necessary to determine if getting our practices into institutions would be best for us, and the region.”
As the St. Louis region thinks about its response to extreme weather events from climate change, such as increased flooding, and its dependence on drought-prone places like California for its food supply, local food provides opportunities for gains in environmental sustainability, nutrition, and public health.
For more information, visit www.moenvironment.org/.