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$9.7M Agreement to Help NJ Farmers and Underserved Communities

The Community FoodBank of New Jersey (CFBNJ) announced it is serving as the subrecipient agency for a $9.7 million cooperative agreement signed by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture (NJDA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) under the new Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement (LFPA). The agreement was signed in November 2022, and work on the program is underway.

The Jersey Fresh for All program, as part of LFPA, aims to increase access to local domestic food and improve supply chain resiliency by creating new markets for farmers, ranchers, and other producers in the state. Funds are used to purchase food from New Jersey farmers and producers, particularly socially disadvantaged farmers, for distribution in underserved communities. CFBNJ is coordinating with the state’s other banks, including Fulfill, Food Bank of South Jersey, the Southern Regional Food Distribution Center, Mercer Street Friends, and Norwescap, to ensure that agricultural products purchased through LFPA reach people in need in all 21 New Jersey counties.

Through this innovative program, CFBNJ is establishing partnerships that best support local needs, as well as farm viability, particularly through purchasing local and seasonal products sought by community members. LFPA is authorized by the American Rescue Plan. Nationwide, the USDA awarded up to $400 million through non-competitive cooperative agreements with state and tribal governments to support the purchase of food produced within the state or within 400 miles of the delivery destination.

“Through LFPA, we can broaden access to wholesome, healthy, and delicious Jersey Fresh food for our neighbors in need,” said Elizabeth McCarthy, president & CEO of the Community FoodBank of New Jersey. “We are excited to engage in this groundbreaking work that nourishes underserved communities and lifts up socially disadvantaged producers for a fairer and more equitable Garden State.”

CFBNJ is working in close coordination with the Director of the New Jersey Office of the Food Security Advocate and the NJDA. The Common Market and the New Jersey Food Democracy Collaborative (NJFDC) are serving as key collaborators in the program’s procurement, research, outreach, and relationship development activities.

“About 50% of New Jersey’s farmgate value comes from roughly 100 farms,” said Mark Dinglasan, director of the New Jersey Office of the Food Security Advocate. “That’s why LFPA seeks to encourage diversity in farming. I’m proud to work alongside a group of committed partners to bring opportunity to local producers across the state.”

As of late September 2023, LFPA funding has supported the purchase of more than 1.1 million pounds of New Jersey-sourced produce and proteins, which have reached more than 300 unique organizations in over 100 communities. CFBNJ, NJFDC, and The Common Market anticipate building on this progress throughout the three-year grant period.

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