Special to the Democrat
Published 12:42 p.m. ET Oct. 6, 2020


Frenchtown Neighborhood Improvement Association (FNIA) has been awarded a USDA Farmers Market Promotion (FMPP) grant in the amount of $244,682.86 that will help expand the operation of FNIA’s Frenchtown Farmers Market and Kitchen Share facility and create similar programs in Gadsden and Jefferson Counties.

The expansion will reach thousands of new consumers, increase local food sales by 20%, create at least 20 new jobs and as many careers.  

Along with matching funds from Sustainable Tallahassee, Capstan Marketing, North Florida Legal Services, and ALCOM Corporation, the funding will help to fuel FNIA’s mission to increase participation in the local food system, enable the growth of local food sources through business support services, and commercial kitchen access for value-added preparation. Notably, only two applicants out of a field of 49 were awarded. The other is in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Florida’s Department of Health has identified Leon County as having the fourth highest food insecurity rate in the state. A significant contributing factor to these disparities is the lack of local food infrastructure to develop agricultural resources into business opportunities that can provide healthy food options at competitive prices.

A portion of these funds will be aimed at marketing to establish brand identity for local food purveyors, farmer/producer education workshops to expand sustainable production, consumer education workshops to grow the demand for local food products,

and direct producer-to-consumer sales at weekend markets.

When asked about the broad foundation for this project, FNIA director Jim Bellamy said “We are creating a sustainable model that will strengthen our region’s resiliency and stability, especially needed in this time of crisis and uncertainty. This effort will impact all of Tallahassee and the surrounding communities with specific projects planned for Gadsden and Jefferson Counties.”

Additionally, the grant funding will cover the cost of certifications to help remove barriers to career entry for those seeking employment in the food preparation and distribution industry. “We will also confront the issue of food insecurity by serving 200 households through our food rescue program and pop-up markets,” said Bellamy. “This aspect of our work will remain strategically targeted to serve at-risk communities.”

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