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Rhodes Center Receives EPA Funds for Local Food Economy
Missouri Ag Connection - 05/19/2020

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service, is announcing that the Mattie Rhodes Center in Kansas City, Missouri, is one of 16 organizations across the nation to receive assistance to help boost economic opportunities for their local farmers, while promoting clean air, safe water, open space, and healthy food choices.

The Mattie Rhodes Center will create a viable food hub and community gardens on a cleaned- up brownfields federal facility site. The site is in an urban food desert that is home to a large immigrant refugee population. "The Trump administration is committed to helping communities develop and strengthen their local food economy by investing in Opportunity Zones in often underprivileged 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."

Nearly all communities selected include Opportunity Zones, in support of President Trump's Executive Order 13853. 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 Mattie Rhodes Center is an important resource for the community," said EPA Region 7 Administrator Jim Gulliford. "The community members who grow their own produce in the community garden will stretch their food dollars, while enjoying fresh fruits and vegetables."

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.

"We are hopeful that this project will lead to an adaptive reuse for one of the oldest properties in our area, while filling a food niche that reflects the diverse population of our area," said Scott Wagner, director of Northeast Alliance Together at Mattie Rhodes.

EPA will be flexible in working with these communities on next steps for their planned projects, as necessary, considering that many communities are still dealing with issues related to COVID-19.

For more information on LFLP, visit: www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/local-foods-local-places.

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