Press Release

Press Release  State Agricultural Officials Highlight Transformative Local Food Program with Visits to Farms in Central Massachusetts

For immediate release:
5/13/2024
  • Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources

Media Contact   for State Agricultural Officials Highlight Transformative Local Food Program with Visits to Farms in Central Massachusetts

Phu Mai, Director of Communications

Commissioner Randle with MDAR staff, state and federal officials, and farmers at World Farmers

PetershamMassachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) Commissioner Ashley Randle toured three farms in North Central Massachusetts today to celebrate the success of the innovative Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement (LFPA) program. The program is administered by MDAR and funded through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) by the “Build Back Better” initiative authorized by the American Rescue Plan. LFPA supports farmers and emergency food providers by funding operations to purchase food from socially disadvantaged farmers and growers to provide to underserved communities. Since its inception, MDAR has awarded $7.25 million to 16 organizations, with over half going to local farmers and producers in the last two years.

Commissioner Randle visited Eastern Woodlands Rematriation in Petersham, World Farmers in Lancaster, and Growing Places in Leominster with state and federal officials, who all received funding in late 2022. Recipients shared the innovative ways they have leveraged the program funds to combat food insecurity and strengthen the local food system by creating new partnerships across the state and distributing food to a wide network of food pantries and other food distribution sites.

“It’s truly inspiring to see how the LFPA program has been a game-changer in how we approach food insecurity in Massachusetts while supporting our local farmers, especially those who have traditionally been underserved,” said MDAR Commissioner Ashley Randle. “The amazing efforts of Eastern Woodlands Rematriation, World Farmers, and Growing Places have provided a blueprint for other organizations to follow as we work to achieve greater access to locally grown food for everyone.”

 

About the LFPA Award Recipients:

Eastern Woodlands Rematriation is a collective of Indigenous people with a mission to restore their spiritual foundation and livelihood through a regenerative, resilient, and just food system. The main goal of their LFPA project is to strengthen and fortify the indigenous foodways of New England. Through regional intertribal food hubs, their project scales existing efforts and enables tribal families, and disadvantaged individuals and communities throughout the Commonwealth affordable easy access to fresh, nutritional, and culturally relevant foods and products.

World Farmers is an agricultural non-profit whose mission is to support small farmers in sustainable agricultural production and successful marketing practices to connect culturally relevant produce to viable markets. Their LFPA project has expanded sales for over 60 immigrant and refugee commercial farmers in their programs and other farmers of color in their network, serving areas in environmental justice communities across five counties in Massachusetts. Conducted in collaboration with eight community partners, their project partners with and supports refugee and immigrant farmers and farmers of color in Massachusetts by increasing their crops sales with the ultimate goal of increasing access to local, fresh, and culturally important vegetables and proteins for low-income or food impoverished communities.

Growing Places is another non-profit farming operation whose mission is to inspire and connect the North Central MA community to create equitable access to healthy food and environmental sustainability through education, collaboration, and advocacy. They used their LFPA funds to create the Local Food Works Fresh Box program, which aims to bolster the agricultural supply chain resiliency in the 27 communities of North Central MA. The goals of this initiative include making local food purchasing from socially disadvantaged farmers a top priority through deeper connections with farmers, consumers, and buyers; processing local food products for season extension and easy preparation; creating culturally responsible Fresh Boxes containing locally produced food for distribution; and forming a cultural food working group to incorporate an equity lens into rebuilding the local food system.

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Media Contact   for State Agricultural Officials Highlight Transformative Local Food Program with Visits to Farms in Central Massachusetts

  • Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources 

    The Department’s mission is to cultivate a robust and equitable agricultural economy, promote a safe and resilient food system, and preserve a healthy environment for Massachusetts farmers, animals, and consumers.
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