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New program set for Whatcom, Skagit farmers; loans may be re-paid in food

Nov 4th, 2015 | Category: News

SKAGIT – Skagit County has been awarded up to $900,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Economic Opportunity funds by the Washington State Department of Commerce, providing farmers with on-farm infrastructure and more food for local food banks.

This project represents a partnership between Skagit County government and Community Action of Skagit County, which will manage and operate the project in collaboration with a network of local farms and food banks. The CDBG Economic Opportunity Grant, citing small farms challenged by the lack of infrastructure and approximately one in four Skagit County families relying on local food banks, this project will provided financial support to low- and moderate-income farm business owners in Skagit and Whatcom counties. The funds for infrastructure may take many forms, including greenhouses, irrigation and improvements that will help farmers meet new federal Food Safety Modernization Standards. In turn, farmers will repay this financial assistance with cash and/or produce in lieu of cash repayments, according to the CDBG.

Community Action’s Skagit Food Distribution Center will coordinate and distribute the produce to area food banks and hot meal programs. If a farmer chooses to repay assistance by cash, the funds will be used through the Skagit Food Distribution Center to help expand the amount of local food in the food bank network.

For more information, contact Bob Hicks, Operations Manager, Skagit County Public Health and Community Services at (360) 336-9379 or bobhicks@skagit.co.wa.us, or Cole Bitzenburg, Skagit Food Distribution Center Coordinator, Community Action of Skagit County, (360) 416-7585, ext 1189.

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