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New state program to bring more fresh food into underserved communities

The state recently announced it would launch the Iowa Local Food Purchasing Assistance Program.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Bringing more fresh food into communities in need is one of the goals of the new Iowa Local Food Purchasing Assistance Program

The other goal is to buy that food from smaller farms or minority farmers. 

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig said this program will help make farm-to-table not just a reality for those with money, but a reality for those without. 

The fresh food will also be given to those in need, free of charge.

"We know that family budgets are stressed right now because of the high cost of fuel and groceries, so this is one part to help provide some foods and some nutritious food, for Iowa families," Naig said.

Iowa was awarded $2.7 million from USDA for the program.

Naig said $1.8 million will be allocated to buy food from farmers and to help distribute the food to underserved communities.

This aspect of the program will help those disadvantaged farmers by supporting their businesses, Naig said. 

 "If you've got a growing marketplace that you can serve, that's how we help those folk," Naig said. "The golden opportunity here is to connect some dots and then create demand that maybe wasn't there before."

Aubrey Alvarez, executive director of Eat Greater Des Moines, said the state starting this program is necessary.

Her organization's role with the program will be to help farmers or local producers get connected to the state and know what to do.

It will also include helping coordinate where the food will go. 

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"This food is really going to be a timely addition to an already stretched emergency food system," Alvarez said.

Alvarez noted the program might be delivering food to underserved communities by October.

The program is still looking for people who produce food to be involved. She said her organization can help walk people through the process of signing up. You can reach out to them here

Or, people can go directly to the state's agriculture website to find out more. 

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