Local food security initiative getting federal grant funding

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WASHINGTON (CBS19 NEWS) -- A local initiative to help expand food access for youth and families is getting some federal funding.

Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine announced on Thursday the Charlottesville Food Justice Network is getting $375,000, which will help the organization reach more than 3,500 youth and 2,000 adults in the Charlottesville area.

The funding will be used to expand food access, cultivate local food equity, and fuel and sustain economic empowerment through increased community-led urban agriculture.

According to a release, the funding is coming from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

It was awarded through the Community Food Projects Competitive Grant Program, which is designed to fight food insecurity by supporting the development of community food projects that promote self-sufficiency for low-income communities.

"With more than one million Virginians living in low-income areas with little or no access to healthy foods, it's clear that food equity remains a critical issue in our Commonwealth, said the senators. "We are thrilled that the Charlottesville Food Justice Network will be receiving federal support to build long-lasting solutions to expand food security in Charlottesville."

The release says the Just Food for US initiative aims to create an equitable food system through citizen-led urban agriculture, market development, youth leadership, and cross-sectorial action for local food policy.

The grant funding will support efforts to employ food insecure adults and youth as food justice leaders, increase racial equity practices in local food system organizations, and expand resident-led urban food production, distribution and market participation at 16 urban locations for 50,000 pounds of produce.

The initiative will also work to develop food policy recommendations and help to enact changes in the community.

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