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Higgins, Gillibrand: $389,000-plus in federal funding for Buffalo Community Food Hub Project

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Wed, Sep 20th 2017 07:20 pm
Joint Effort between Massachusetts Avenue Project & Grassroots Gardens of Western New York to increase access to healthy food options & build stronger neighborhoods
Congressman Brian Higgins joined leaders from the Massachusetts Avenue Project and Grassroots Gardens of Western New York to announce a federal grant totaling $389,088 for the Buffalo Community Food Hub Project.
"Grassroots Gardens and MAP are giving residents the tools to grow access to food and so much more," Higgins said. "This is a project that feeds community building, leadership skills and new opportunities for personal development and family security. This grant provides critical resources to build on the success of these great programs."
"We need to make access to healthy foods a priority in our communities," said Gillibrand, a member of the Senate agriculture committee who has been advocating for USDA to fund this project. "I called on the USDA to fund this project to help the Massachusetts Avenue Project expand their operations to increase access to nutritious produce and create new opportunities for our local farmers in Western New York. Providing our communities with these resources will continue to help boost the local economy, revitalize our communities, and create new good-paying jobs."
The goal of the Community Food Hub Project is to build leadership skills among low-income youth, new Americans and community gardeners while addressing food access needs in Buffalo neighborhoods. Work is currently underway on MAP's new farmhouse at 389 Massachusetts Ave., Buffalo, which will serve as a community hub for agriculture-based training and education. The space will also provide food-based employment opportunities and a marketplace for local growers to sell their goods.
MAP and Grassroots Gardens of WNY are working both independently and in coordination to transform vacant lots into community gardens and food deserts into places with easy access to locally sourced food. Over the years, MAP has created jobs for over 700 young people while Grassroots Gardens has supported the creation of approximately 100 community-driven gardens in the cities of Buffalo and Niagara Falls.
"As MAP expands our physical infrastructure with the construction of our new farmhouse and community food training center, this grant will allow us to expand our community impacts and the workforce and leadership development activities we provide youth, while growing our partnership with Grassroots Gardens of WNY and others in the food and agriculture sector," said Diane Picard, MAP's executive director.
"Grassroots Gardens has empowered city residents to grow their own food for more than 20 years. With resources like the Community Food Project, combined with partners like MAP, we can build on these efforts by creating gateways to healthy eating behaviors, places for New Americans to celebrate cultural heritage and, now, entrepreneurial incubators for potential market gardens," said Melissa Fratello, Grassroots Gardens' executive director.
The federal funding is provided through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, a community food projects program aimed at addressing food insecurity in low-income communities through improved systems and access to fresh and nutritious food options.
The federal grant will be matched with an equal amount of financial and in-kind support through partnerships between the Massachusetts Avenue Project, Grassroots Gardens, University at Buffalo dietetics department, City of Buffalo, Oles Family Farms & Promised Land CSA, and Journey's End.
The full text of the Gillibrand's letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture is included HERE.

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