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Organizers running food production efforts across the state are receiving $1.25 million in federal funds, in part to expand access to healthy food in rural areas.
U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree on Monday announced the federal funding, which is divided between two separate federal programs advocated by the congresswoman.
CEI (Coastal Enterprises Inc.) in Wiscasset received an $800,000 grant from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Community Economic Development Program, Pingree said. The funds are meant to support the program’s Healthy Food Finance Initiative and will be used to help finance facility expansions and equipment purchases for small businesses, including small farms and food processors. The initiative seeks to improve access to healthy food options for rural areas in Maine, along with boosting the local economy and creating new jobs there.
Under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Local Food Marketing Promotion Program, seven Maine food production efforts are set to receive $450,000 in federal grants, Pingree said. The grants were given to the following organizations:
• Plowshares Community Farm in Gorham, which is receiving $100,000 for the creation of a marketing campaign and fresh food storage facilities.
• Greater Portland Council of Governments, which is receiving $25,000 for a study on encouraging schools and colleges to use more local fish and produce.
• Kennebec Valley Council of Governments, which is receiving $76,000 for the expansion of a local Community Supported Agriculture program, The Pickup.
• Good Shepherd Food Bank in Auburn, which is receiving $100,000 for the development of buying relationships with local farms, some of which will receive funding to expand storage and distribution.
• Grow L+A, which is receiving $25,000 for a study on changes in the Lewiston-Auburn area’s food system that would help make it more sustainable.
• Maine Farmland Trust, which is receiving $100,000 for the development of a food hub at Unity College that will aggregate, store and market local food.
• Sunrise County Economic Council, which is receiving $24,000 for a study on methods to expand and develop local food opportunities.