116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Home / Business
A new project from the Iowa Department of Agriculture will bring food grown in Iowa to underserved communities through food banks and food hubs.
The Iowa Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement is being funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and will be managed by Iowa Valley Resource Conservation and Development, a not-for-profit in Amana.
The grant is for $2.7 million, $1.8 million of which will go toward purchasing food from farmers in Iowa. The rest of the funds will be used for items such as staff time and administration, according to Giselle Bruskewitz, Iowa Valley program director.
“The producers will be selling their product to either a food hub or a food bank. So the food hubs and food banks are the distribution partners,” Bruskewitz said.
“They're the folks who have refrigerated trucks, who have warehouse space, and they will be aggregating all the product and then getting it out to community partners, and by community partners I mean the organizations and the folks that are serving Iowans every day, places like food pantries, early care facilities, farm stands, backpack programs, senior citizen or senior living facilities, those types of places that are working directly with different members of the community.”
The grant will last through the end of May 2024. Bruskewitz said one of the goals of the project is to find creative ways to continue collaboration among farmers, food banks and hubs with community partners after those two years are up.
Iowa Valley currently is working with committees of community partners and focus groups of farmers to figure out the logistics of the project.
Bruskewitz anticipates starting to see food reaching community partners in August.
The project will serve more than 2,000 food distribution sites, including food pantries and other places food is brought to the community. It is also expected to benefit at least 300 Iowan farmers and producers.
The grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture was created to prioritize socially disadvantaged food producers. The project will focus on farmers who are BIPOC — Black, Indigenous or people of color — immigrants or refugees, women, LGBTQ and veterans.
The Meskwaki Nation also worked with the state government to apply for this grant, which was authorized by the American Rescue Plan. The grant was written for state and Native American governments. Through the program, the Meskwaki community will receive produce that’s culturally appropriate for their community, Bruskewitz said.
“There’s a lot of different ways people are accessing food across the state. A lot of people are experiencing food insecurity and hunger in Iowa, and this project is really aimed at serving those folks that are going through that experience of food insecurity,” Bruskewitz said.
Comments: (319) 398-8328; firstname.lastname@example.org