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Growing Foods Connections

by Susan Whitfield

Susan Whitfield, Project Manager for No More Empty Pots, represented Omaha, NE at the Growing Foods Connections Community of Opportunity (GFC COO) interview session at the American Land Trust National conference Farmland, Food and Livable Communities held in Lexington, KY on October 20-22, 2014.
Growing Food Connections (GFC) is a five year, $3.96 million research initiative funded by the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture of the USDA. The goal of GFC is to build local government capacity to promote sustainable and economically viable agriculture and food production and to improve community food security (through research, education and planning). GFC builds the capacity of local governments to improve community food systems that benefit small and mid-sized farmers and underserved community residents. Samina Raja, Associate Professor, School of Architecture and Planning, Food System Planning and Healthy Communities Lab, University at Buffalo, New York, is the principal investigator.

The GFC committee received over 100 applications from across the United States. Because of the many strong proposals the committee found it challenging to narrow the field down from 14 to 8. Thus representatives from all 14 municipalities were invited to participate in the interviewing process at the American Land Trust National Conference. Omaha in Douglas County Nebraska was one of the 14 communities selected to compete for one of the final eight GFC COO openings. Finalists will receive personalized technical assistance and training over the next three years. The interview session had a five person panel and lasted 25 minutes in length. The final decision will be announced before Thanksgiving. The other municipalities selected included: Adams, PA; Brookings, SD; Dougherty, GA; Dona Ana, MN; Cumberland, ME; Wyandotte/Greater Kansas Metro, KS/MP; Luna, NM; Polk, NC; Monroe, PA; Niagara, NY; Pueblo, CO; Union, IA.

The Growing Food Connections Policy Database, hosted by the School of Architecture and Planning at the University at Buffalo, was launched at the conference on Monday, October 20th. This database was created to inform local governments as they work to broaden access to healthy food and help local farms and food producers become more sustainable. A searchable database, it contains information on more than 100 newly adopted innovative, local government food system policies, including, but not limited to, public investment in food systems, farmland protection, local food procurement and food policy council resolutions. Learn more here.

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