HARTFORD, Conn. — The Connecticut Department of Agriculture (CT DoAg) hosted the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) at Connecticut Foodshare in Wallingford to sign a cooperative agreement under the Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program (LFPA). Through the agreement, CT DoAg will receive funding to promote economic opportunities for Connecticut food producers. Connecticut is the second state to enter into a cooperative agreement under the program.
“This Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement will connect new and historically underserved communities to healthy, local food while also expanding new market opportunities for farmers and producers,” said USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt. “USDA is excited to partner with the state of Connecticut in addressing food insecurity and thankful for the state’s early leadership and commitment to the Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement. USDA looks forward to working with more states and tribal governments to strengthen local partnerships and ensure that underserved communities have access to locally sourced, healthy food.”
“Funds received through the LFPA cooperative agreement will enable us to continue prior efforts to bring locally grown food from Connecticut farmers to the tables of underserved neighbors,” said Connecticut Department of Agriculture Commissioner Bryan P. Hurlburt. “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Connecticut actively engaged in emergency feeding programs with a focus on the inclusion of CT Grown products and this offers an opportunity to expand upon those efforts.”
“Connecticut’s farmers are an integral part of what we do here daily at Connecticut Foodshare. We have had small successes in the past with our relationships with Connecticut’s farmers, but we are very excited to expand those relationships thanks to the Local Food Purchase Assistance Award,” said Connecticut Foodshare CEO and President Jason Jakubowski. “The premise of this partnership is that people who are food insecure deserve the same fresh quality products as everyone else and that is what Connecticut’s farmers will help us achieve.”
The LFPA program is authorized by the American Rescue Plan and will fund $4.4 million to Connecticut with 40% going to the state’s tribal governments. The remaining $2.64 million includes $850,000 earmarked for Connecticut Foodshare and $1.5 million to be awarded through competitive grants to eligible entities including pantry collaboratives, food hubs and aggregators, community health centers, and social service centers to purchase Connecticut Grown products with a focus on small and underserved producers to be distributed to underserved communities. Interested grant applicants should look for information to be posted on CTGrown.org soon.
Earlier in the day, Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz joined USDA Under Secretary Jenny Lester Moffitt, Agriculture Commissioner Bryan P. Hurlburt, Hartford Public High School educators, and members of the Connecticut Grown for Connecticut Kids Grant advisory team for a roundtable discussion at Hartford Public High School.
“I want to thank everyone who worked to bring forth the CT Grown for CT Kids Grant program, especially our Department of Agriculture Commissioner Bryan Hurlburt, as well to our state’s school food service workers and educators who work tirelessly every day to feed our youth,” said Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz. “Farm to School programming allows students to gain access to healthy, local foods, and provides so many new opportunities for producers, our state’s children and educators, and our greater Connecticut community.”
While there they also heard from grant awardees in round one how the funds will help establish and further farm to school initiatives in the state.
“This grant is a pact between us that we will deliver on our commitment to disrupt inequitable food supply practices, enact social change, and give our students the very best in the cafeteria and classroom,” said Dr. Joanna Ali, Director of STEM at Hartford Public Schools.
“This partnership between the USDA and CT DoAg, using American Rescue Plan funds will help connect our residents with healthy, nutritious, and locally-sourced food,” said City of Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin. “Hartford is proud to have a strong network of organizations dedicated to ensuring that our kids and families can put healthy food on the table, and the LPFA program will help expand and enhance those services.”
The Connecticut Department of Agriculture mission is to foster a healthy economic, environmental, and social climate for agriculture by developing, promoting, and regulating agricultural businesses; protecting agricultural and aquacultural resources; enforcing laws pertaining to domestic animals; and promoting an understanding among the state’s citizens of the diversity of Connecticut agriculture, its cultural heritage, and its contribution to the state’s economy. For more information, visit www.CTGrown.gov.
–Connecticut Department of Agriculture