USDA Food Promotion Program Implementation Evaluation
Guilford County, North Carolina is home to a wide range of agricultural resources, including 90,750 acres of farmland and $685,000 in agritourism and recreational activity . At the same time, Greensboro/High Point, the major metropolitan area within the county, has 24 food deserts , a food insecurity rate of 19% , and the highest food hardship rate in the United States . Considering this disconnect between local food and agriculture resources available and the use of those resources by individuals, families, and institutions, the City of Greensboro has mobilized several stakeholders to promote food security across our communities and develop mechanisms that support individuals and organizations who start businesses around local foods.
The City of Greensboro, the Greensboro Community Food Task Force, and the Guilford Food Council have been working together to promote food security across the Greater Greensboro Metropolitan Area and tackle the issues of access to healthy food and economic development around local food businesses. In 2014, with funding from U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP) Planning Grant these organizations, and other community partners, developed a Fresh Food Access Plan which was adopted by the City in 2015. This plan identified Gaps in Our Food System, Barriers to Food Access, a lack of distribution opportunities for local Farmers and a need for commercial kitchens which would promote new food business development. The USDA has since awarded the City a Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP) Implementation Grant to help fund portions of a food plan.
The USDA awarded the City a Local Food Promotion Program Implementation Grant to help fund portions of a food plan. The City is working with four primary partners on the program: Guilford County Cooperative Extension Office, the Greensboro Farmers Market, the Out of the Garden Project, and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro Center for Housing and Community Studies (UNCG-CHCS). The City is leading in administering the funds and coordinating efforts among the partners, now known as Kitchen Connects GSO. The project addresses the lack of shared kitchen space for new local food entrepreneurs which was a recommendation of the 2015 Fresh Food Access Plan (page 33).
The LFPP funding is intended to support the expansion of local food entrepreneurs and provided them with connections to local producers; enable local growers to create value-added food products; provide a model for working with a neighborhood to increase the consumption of local produce; and provide data that monitors program results and a reveals clearer picture of local eating and shopping habits. This project anticipates the development of new market opportunities for food businesses and support for local food producers by:
- by providing food safety training and certification classes for local farmers and food-based entrepreneurs;
- providing training and marketing space for new businesses;
- increasing domestic consumption of locally produced agriculture by connecting local entrepreneurs to local producers at the Greensboro Farmers Market;
- increasing access to locally produced food by modeling a program to support food education and food businesses in a low-income neighborhood with limited food access;
- assisting in the expansion and development of other food business enterprises by providing statistically valid surveys to analyze food hardship the local food supply and demand in Greensboro and the effect this program has:
Four objectives have been identified for the implementation and evaluation of this program:
- Objective 1: Create and coordinate resources for local food businesses.
- Objective 2: Create demand for local produce converted into a shelf-stable product.
- Objective 3: Decrease the barriers for local farmers that want to diversify from commodity crops to locally consumed crops.
- Objective 4: Assess the use of local food resources by consumers, including those provided through the proposed program.
The UNC Greensboro Center for Housing and Community Studies served as the evaluator for the implementation program (aka Kitchen Connects GSO). Annual evaluation reports are available below: