A $2 million investment in seed funding will establish the First State Integrated Food System Program.
This new program, which will be developed by the Delaware Council on Farm and Food Policy, will help stabilize and strengthen Delaware’s small and mid-sized farmers and local food supply chain operations, among the hardest hit sectors during the pandemic, a release stated.
The funding for this program is provided through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which was signed into law by President Joe Biden.
“The First State Integrated Food System will provide a coordinated approach to improving local access to affordable and nutritious, Delaware-produced foods while supporting Delaware farmers,” said Gov. John Carney. “We know the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted small-scale food businesses and Delaware families’ access to food. That’s why the Council on Farm and Food Policy will work with partners to develop and administer a diverse portfolio of grants and loans to improve the availability and accessibility of local produce, animal protein, value-added products, and other foods, promoting overall economic growth here in Delaware.”
The First State Integrated Food System Program focuses on three main channels in the food supply chain, including:
- Production: small and mid-size farmers;
- Processing and distribution: commercial kitchens, processing facilities, storage/hub facilities, incubators;
- Retail/consumer outlets: convenience stores, groceries/markets, restaurants, farmers’ markets, food trucks, food kiosks, and mobile markets.
“This program prioritizes our food system and provides an opportunity for the State to make a strategic investment in how families access food in their communities and at the same time improve the resilience of the local food supply chain,” said Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse. “Neighboring states, like Maryland and New Jersey, have reaped the benefits of food financing programs. The First State Integrated Food System Program will make similar opportunities available to bolster Delaware’s capacity. These efforts will go a long way in improving local access to local food.”
The Council provides a lens into various aspects of Delaware’s food system, supply chain, and food security. The Council strives to facilitate and support a food system where:
- Local farmers can access viable markets;
- All Delawareans can access resources needed to circumvent challenges associated with securing nutritious and local food options; and
- Where vulnerabilities within our communities can be diminished.
All ARPA funds related to this program will be dispersed by December 2024. For more information regarding the Delaware Council on Farm and Food Policy or the First State Integrated Food Safety Program, contact Nikko Brady at the Delaware Department of Agriculture, email@example.com.