Today, Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Congressman Jim Himes (D-Conn.) announced $568,150 in federal funding for the New England Food Hub Initiative, a project administered by Bridgeport's Wholesome Wave Foundation Charitable Ventures, Inc. The Wholesome Wave Foundation received this grant as a winner of the Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, a nationwide competition administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration (EDA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Delta Regional Authority (DRA), and the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) with support from nine additional federal agencies.
The goal of the New England Food Hub Initiative is to address the demand for locally produced foods throughout New England. Specifically, the New England Food Hub Initiative will deliver links to capital resources, and technical support to local food producers, processors, storage, and transporters in New England in order to help them grow their businesses and create local jobs.
"With this funding, farmers across Connecticut, and all of New England, will have greater access to communities that have traditionally been underserved by healthy, fresh, locally-sourced produce," said Lieberman. "As a result of the work of Wholesome Wave, communities are beginning to address the problems of a lack of healthy food for children and families, and we are fortunate that EDA and USDA have seen the promise of this endeavor. This is yet another encouragement for us to ensure a robust Farm Bill is adopted this year and contains many of the important provisions we passed in the Senate, such as expanding the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program and allowing SNAP benefits to be used at local farmers markets."
"This grant will mean more farm jobs and better nutrition for both rural and urban Connecticut," said Blumenthal. "It will expand food production and link farmers with markets, so that fresher produce will be more widely available and affordable. This financial aid will truly support a wholesome wave of jobs and food, helping Connecticut's local food producers to bring nutritious foods to families throughout New England and boost the region's local economies. I congratulate the Wholesome Wave Foundation on its extraordinary work to improve Connecticut's economy."
"This funding will create jobs, spur economic and agricultural growth in Bridgeport and other communities, and help struggling families put food on the table," said Himes. "At a time when so many are having trouble making ends meet, Wholesome Wave is doing excellent work addressing the demand for healthy, locally produced food, and I look forward to working with them to ensure Bridgeport's and Connecticut's nutritional needs are met."
"We are honored to have been selected by the USDA to help strengthen New England's regional food infrastructure," said Michel Nischan, CEO & Founder of Wholesome Wave. "This critical and timely support will make it possible for our Healthy Food Commerce Initiative team to work with and invest in promising "healthy food hub' enterprises, giving them opportunities to expand their operations and build strong networks in a way that both stimulates local and regional New England economies and makes fresh healthy locally grown food more accessible and affordable for all."