USDA Expands Food LINC Initiative to Bolster Local Food Sector

Fresno, California, Nov. 28, 2016 – U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary Lillian Salerno today announced the expansion of the Food LINC program to Food Commons Fresno and two other organizations in Texas and Illinois. Food LINC, Leveraging Investment for Network Coordination, is a three-year initiative spearheaded by USDA and its philanthropic partners to enhance local and regional food systems.

“USDA recognizes that our investments in local food infrastructure have the most success in communities where coordination between producers, processors, distributors and buyers is strong,” Salerno said. “More than 160,000 farmers are tapping into the demand for local and regional foods, and strong growth is expected in the coming years. Food LINC is a proven strategy to leverage our resources to create lasting impacts for farmers, ranchers and rural communities.”

USDA launched Food LINC in March 2016 to connect the demand for local food in 10 urban areas with supply from farmers and ranchers. It also is intended to increase consumers’ access to healthy food. The Department invested $1 million in Food LINC along with $2.5 million from 18 philanthropic organizations and more than $1.5 million from Appalachian Regional Commission and the Delta Regional Authority.  

Food Commons Fresno will help small farmers and local food producers in the San Joaquin Valley (SJV) reach new markets by developing a working group of buyers and farmers, identifying the processing needs of small farmers and working to connect local producers with land suitable for growing food.

Kiel Schmidt, development and wholesale produce manager for Food Commons Fresno called the Food LINC initiative “an important key to unlocking the potential of the local market for local farms. This will have lasting impact on small farmers, consumers and rural communities. The first step is identifying food buyers to participate in a needs assessment survey.”

In addition to its leadership in the Food LINC initiative, Food Commons Fresno plans to develop a multi-functional retail, kitchen and distribution facility in SW Fresno, which will bring employment, investment and improve healthy food access.

For food buyer in the San Joaquin Valley interested in participating, please take our Buyer Survey - Local Market Assestment

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