MONTGOMERY – A $28,762 grant announced by Gov. Robert Bentley will boost the production, marketing and availability of locally grown food in north Alabama.
The grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission will assist the growth and expansion of the Farm Food Collaborative (Food Bank of North Alabama), a group of local farmers, buyers and support agencies in 11 north Alabama counties, dedicated to sufficiently growing and supplying fresh food in their region.
The concept helps provides local jobs and ensures that restaurants schools, grocery stores, hospitals and other markets obtain and provide fresh foods.
“Agriculture has and will always play an enormous role in the development and growth of Alabama,” Bentley said. “This program illustrates the importance of farming and its ability to provide employment and sustenance.”
The program meets ARC’s goals to boost the economy in Alabama’s Appalachian region and improve the health and welfare of the people living there through partnerships involving governments, non-profit agencies and private businesses.
Counties in the collaborative are Colbert, Cullman, DeKalb, Franklin, Jackson, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, Marshall and Morgan.
Bentley notified Nancy Robertson, executive director of the Top of Alabama Regional Council of Governments that the grant had been approved. The grant is being identically matched with local funds to provide a total of $57,524 for the project. It is being administered by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.
ARC is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties, including 39 in Alabama, across the Appalachian Region. The agency’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the Region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation.
“ARC programs have through the years positively impacted so many Alabama communities and regions in the way of infrastructure improvements, education and economic opportunities,” said ADECA Director Jim Byard Jr.
ADECA manages a range of programs that support law enforcement, economic development, recreation, energy conservation and water resource management.