Agriplex receives USDA grant benefiting local farmers, feeding agencies

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Infographic released by the United States Department of Agriculture. (USDA)

CULLMAN, Ala. – The North Alabama Agriplex recently announced it was awarded a United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farmers to Families Food Box Program grant. Agriplex Director Rachel Dawsey said the grant will benefit both local farmers and feeding agencies.

“This grant, targeting COVID-19 relief, will provide funds for the Agriplex to purchase produce from our local farmers and distribute this produce to local feeding agencies weekly,” she said. “The produce will be packed in a box with four types of produce included. Each box will be a $20 value. We will pack 200 boxes per week plus 70 extra boxes once a month. The grant starts May 15 and our first box day will be May 18.”

She continued, “The grant targets farmers growing fresh produce. We are limited to purchasing fruit and vegetables. We will start with the local farmers that have been sourcing our drive-thru market. If any farmer is interested in participating, they can call the Agriplex at 256-297-1044 or email cullmanag@gmail.com. We are only including Cullman County and surrounding area growers.”

The Agriplex is one of only 40 grant recipients in the Southeast.

Dawsey said she is happy with the USDA’s support, sharing, “We are really excited to get this grant! I was worried we would be too small to compete with larger distributors, but the USDA really wants to support small, local growers and to get fresh produce to the food insecure in our community. I applaud the USDA for providing a quick turnaround on a grant that truly meets the needs in our community. This grant will help the Agriplex pursue something we were already doing, but on a much larger scale.”

Continued Dawsey, “For the farmers we are able to support, this will be a significant financial boost. We are purchasing farm products at retail cost and will be a reliable market through the end of June, and if our grant period gets extended, through the end of December.”

The first grant period will give the Agriplex $43,400 to pack and distribute 1,736 boxes to families through local feeding agencies.

Dawsey shared, “The boxes will be donated to the feeding agencies the Agriplex is currently working with including Cullman Caring for Kids, The Caring Center, The Crossing, Main Street Ministries in Winston County, CREEA (Cullman Re-Entry Addiction Assistance), Victim Services, Restoring Women Outreach, St. Vincent de Paul, Cullman First United Methodist Church Hispanic Ministry Food Pantry and more. If any agency is interested in participating, the agency can call 256-297-1044 or email cullmanag@gmail.com.”

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Maggie Darnell

maggie@cullmantribune.com