Gullah Farmers Cooperative Association Partners with Lowcountry Food Bank for Grant Award
Lowcountry Food Bank (LCFB) is proud to announce that it is one of 25 food banks receiving a grant from Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization, as part of their Food Security Equity Impact Fund. This $496,908 grant supports a partnership between the Lowcountry Food Bank and Gullah Farmers Cooperative to address the root causes of hunger and food insecurity in Southeastern South Carolina by developing and advocating for change; developing solutions to improve food insecurity; and to create a more just food system.
“We always strive to innovate and find ways to ensure all our neighbors within the 10 coastal counties we serve have equitable access to healthy produce,” said Nick Osborne, President and CEO of Lowcountry Food Bank. “This amazing project will enable the Cooperative to make the investments needed which will benefits not only the farmers, but the entire community, which will help address food equity and food insecurity in the southernmost counties we serve.”
With every award from the Food Security Equity Impact Fund, a minimum of 85% of awarded dollars were allocated to community partners, purposefully driving resources to organizations with historical barriers to access funding, led by and serving people of color. Lowcountry Food Bank and Gullah Farmers Cooperative will work to:
- Increase the capacity of African American farmers and people of color-led producers to access the wholesale food market
- Expand the membership/suppliers of the Cooperative to include new persons of color-led food producers and farmers
- Establish member services to increase the amount of quality product produced by the participating farmers for Cooperative sales.
Through this project, the Cooperative will continue building and expanding the local food system infrastructure and promote and advocate for local food procurement equity policies and practices. In addition, the Cooperative will be able to provide the support and technical assistance needed for new and existing African American-owned farms and people of color to build long-term capacity to increase production, creating sustainability for the farms and the Cooperative. The Cooperative currently has 11 farm-family members in the region and is seeking to significantly expand its producer reach. An additional six farm families (representing more than 800 acres of farmland) are currently taking steps to become wholesale-ready producers, and the Cooperative is targeting an additional 14 farmer-members to join over the next two years.
“We know that communities of color experience food insecurity at disproportionate rates. As we work to improve food access for all, we need to invest in local organizations whose work helps to remove barriers that lead to long-term or multi-generational food insecurity,” said Ami McReynolds, chief equity officer of Feeding America. “The work proposed by food banks and their community partners for these grants is inspiring. Our hope is that we learn from these community investments and together, in partnership with people facing hunger, work to dismantle the systems that drive inequity and truly end hunger in America.”
Feeding America established the Food Security Equity Impact Fund in March 2021 to drive investments to communities of color which are disproportionately impacted by food insecurity. Data shows Black, Latino, Native American, and Pacific Islanders experience food insecurity at rates 2-3 times higher than that of white individuals.
To learn more about the Gullah Farmers Cooperative and their efforts in the Lowcountry, visit gullahfarmers.org.
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