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Harrisburg Gets EPA Assistance for Local Food Economy
Pennsylvania Ag Connection - 05/22/2020

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Marketing Service, announced that Harrisburg, Pa., is among 16 communities nationwide receiving assistance to boost economic opportunities for their local farmers, while promoting clean air, safe water, open space and healthy food choices.

"The Trump Administration is committed to helping communities develop and strengthen their local food economy by investing in opportunity zones in often under privileged communities, some of which have been hard hit by the coronavirus outbreak," said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. "Support for local food initiatives can improve access to fresh foods, support farmers, grow new businesses, keep Americans healthy and improve the environment."

In Harrisburg, the Redevelopment Authority is pursuing a recommendation from EPA's brownfields program to introduce a food accelerator on a former brownfield site to educate the community on urban food solutions, provide culinary job training, and better connect stores and restaurants to local growers.

The assistance is provided through the Local Foods, Local Places (LFLP) program, a federal initiative that helps communities reinvest in existing neighborhoods and improve quality of life through the sustainable development of their local food economy.

"The Redevelopment Authority of the City of Harrisburg is extremely honored to be a recipient of the Local Food and Local Places Technical Assistance award," said George Payne, projects director for the Redevelopment Authority. "This resource will help a network of local urban produce developers, regional fresh food suppliers and community-based food outlets plan how best to circulate fresh food and produce especially in the South Allison Hill district of Harrisburg where this community based project is located."

"It is encouraging and rewarding to observe how partnership efforts like Local Foods, Local Places can inspire community-driven efforts in Harrisburg to protect air and water quality, preserve open space and farmland," said EPA's Mid Atlantic Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio. "This project will also boost economic opportunities in central Pennsylvania for local farmers and businesses, improve access to healthy local food, and promote childhood wellness."

"The assistance will further neighborhood development, promote resident entrepreneurship and jobs centered around meeting food desert needs and address EPA's goals for brownfield remediation," added Payne. "The Authority has worked closely with the South Allison Hill Resident and Home Owners Association as well as the Community Action Agency centered in the neighborhood to bring the need and request to the EPA and we are excited to be selected."

The selected communities will get access to a team of federal, state, and regional agricultural, environmental, public health, architectural and economic development experts to help develop an action plan, set goals, and identify local assets that can support the local food economy and contribute to downtown and neighborhood revitalization.

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