Photos and story by Kansas Department of Agriculture
MANHATTAN, Kan. — Kansas Department of Agriculture officials joined staff from Harvesters – The Community Food Network in Topeka on Wednesday morning to welcome deliveries of fresh produce purchased under the Local Food Purchase Assistance Program.
KDA has been awarded an additional $2,500,000 to further the state’s work under the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Marketing Service’s Local Food Purchase Assistance (LFPA) Cooperative Agreement Program. The additional funds will be used to purchase and distribute Kansas grown and processed foods to underserved communities and families across Kansas for an additional year.
“We have been proud of the success of the LFPA Program and are pleased to be able to extend it for another growing season,” said Kansas Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kelsey Olson, who was present at Harvesters during the food deliveries on Wednesday. “Kansas-grown food is reaching communities across the state, which benefits not only those communities but also the farmers and producers.”
The purpose of the LFPA Program is to maintain and improve food and agricultural supply chain resiliency. In July 2022, KDA initially received $2,500,000 and partnered with Harvesters along with the Kansas Food Bank and Second Harvest Community Food Bank to purchase locally grown and processed produce, dairy, meat, and honey and distribute it to those in urban and rural communities facing food insecurity.
“LFPA has been a wonderful opportunity for our food banks to work with the Kansas Department of Agriculture and to partner with local producers around the state,” said Stephen Davis, President & CEO of Harvesters – The Community Food Network. “And our neighbors in need are really grateful for this fresh, nutritious Kansas-grown food to help feed their families.”
So far in 2023, the food banks have purchased local food from over 20 Kansas producers and have distributed nearly 800,000 pounds of Kansas-grown produce throughout the state in the first growing season of the program. According to Brian Walker, President & CEO of the Kansas Food Bank, local food purchased through the LFPA Program has already been distributed to 75 of the 85 counties the Kansas Food Bank serves. “These are mostly rural counties where fresh produce is limited so it’s been great for our communities.”
“We are grateful for the USDA and the Kansas Department of Agriculture for their support of this program that will help improve food security in Kansas on many levels,” said Chad Higdon, CEO of Second Harvest Community Food Bank.
The vision of the Kansas Department of Agriculture is to provide an ideal environment for long-term, sustainable agricultural prosperity and statewide economic growth. To achieve this vision, the agency advocates for sectors at all levels and provides industry outreach.