CORTLAND, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Seven Valleys Health Coalition (SVHC) in Cortland County has received nearly $500,000 in grant funds from the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP).
The grant money will be used to support local food businesses and increase access to and consumption of local and regional agricultural products. Improvements include upgrades to SVHC’s multimedia marketing and technical assistance for local food producers looking to increase farm to institution opportunities.
“This current USDA LFPP grant is another great building block for Cortland’s food system,” said Susan Williams, SVHC Assistant Director. “We needed a fairly sizable match for this grant and were, fortunately, able to leverage our work with the City through the NYSDEC and Health Foundation for Western and Central New York food rescue program funding and in-kind donations from several of our project partners from the Cortland Food Project including the Hunger Coalition subcommittee, SUNY Cortland, and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Cortland County, in order to meet the matching funds required.” Staff from SVHC will oversee grant implementation and also subcontract with a few project partners for specific elements including Main Street Farms, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County, and Food Feasible.
While this grant project builds on several years of food systems work, not all projects continue to be a focus in this round of funding. “Having to let go of our plans for a year-round indoor farmers’ market and commercial kitchen at the Homer Ave. plaza was a really hard blow to us this year,” said SVHC Executive Director, Jackie Leaf. “We had been working for several years on that project but the pandemic ripped apart our whole business plan and there was just no way forward with the timeline for that location. Between that and the uncertainty of our traditional funding sources it is easy to get discouraged,” Leaf shared. “The news of this award reminded me just how resilient we are at Seven Valleys Health Coalition and here in Cortland. There are always ways to adapt. Hollenbeck’s Cider Mill’s operational changes to meet pandemic safety needs is a great example. There is always a way forward,” said Leaf. “We’re excited about this project and all of the local food businesses we will be able to support for the next few years,” Williams added. “This grant like all those we have worked on before is truly a collaborative effort. We’re fortunate to have a community that does such a great job of supporting one another.”
The grant period runs from October, 2020 to September 2023.