Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding recently toured York Fresh Food Farms in York, where he discussed how farms in urban areas could end food apartheid.
The Urban Agriculture Infrastructure Grant Program, one program created in the Pennsylvania Farm Bill, provides fresh, healthy foods to urban areas where access to food is limited. The program also exposes youth to career opportunities in agriculture.
“Pennsylvania’s urban gardens provide local families access to tools, space, mentorship, and valuable work that not only nourishes the body but feeds the soul,” Redding said. “We’ve made very intentional decisions to invest in agricultural infrastructure in city spaces across the commonwealth to break down the walls of systemic discrimination that have deprived communities in need of the necessary nutrition to thrive.”
York City Food Pantries received a $15,000 2021 Urban Ag grant, a $13,000 Fresh Food Financing Initiative grant, and a $49,000 2019 Urban Ag grant. The company used the funding to improve its farms’ infrastructure and for its Mobile Produce Market. The market offers free home delivery for low-income York residents.
Funding also was used to implement a Farm to Pantry initiative during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program has delivered 10,000 pounds of fresh produce and more than 900 pounds of local pastured chicken to the community.
In 2019-2020, the Urban Ag Program funded 28 projects, while the 2020-2021 program funded 42 projects.
“The pandemic has made one thing abundantly clear: hyper-local food production is key to addressing food insecurity, especially in urban areas of the commonwealth where food apartheids are a sad reality,” Redding said.