Heartland Regional Foods Business Center
The University of Nebraska–Lincoln has received a $25 million cooperative agreement award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the creation of the Heartland Regional Foods Business Center. This award is among the largest ever received by the university.
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[00:00:04.316]The University of Nebraska–Lincoln
has received a $25 million
[00:00:07.536]cooperative agreement award from the
U.S. Department of Agriculture for the
[00:00:11.388]creation of the Heartland
Regional Foods Business Center.
[00:00:14.060]This award is among the largest
ever received by the university.
[00:00:18.525]The Heartland Regional Foods Business
Center is among 12 such national centers
[00:00:22.694]the USDA will establish to
serve all areas of the country.
[00:00:26.694]The Heartland center will serve Nebraska,
Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Iowa.
[00:00:32.914]Rural Prosperity Nebraska,
a UNL Extension hub that
[00:00:36.124]helps connect Nebraska communities
with university faculty, students and
[00:00:39.547]other resources, is leading the project
in cooperation with 33 partners.
[00:00:44.010]The project is not to create a
physical brick-and-mortar “center,”
[00:00:47.200]but rather an online platform to connect
and strengthen locally grown food systems.
[00:00:52.473]“USDA is excited to be partnering
with Rural Prosperity Nebraska on
[00:00:56.234]this innovative and unprecedented
initiative,” said Jenny Lester Moffitt,
[00:01:00.284]USDA undersecretary for marketing
and regulatory programs.
[00:01:04.552]“By leveraging the expertise now available
through these Regional Food Centers,
[00:01:09.245]USDA can offer unique support for local
food systems development across the country.”
[00:01:15.471]Mary Emery, executive director
of Rural Prosperity Nebraska,
[00:01:19.661]said the award would help paint
a clear picture for the farmers,
[00:01:22.411]distributors and other major players
in the region’s local food system.
[00:01:26.671]“You have all these different
entities working with local foods -
[00:01:29.900]producers, grocery stores,
local distributors, nonprofits,
[00:01:32.878]business developers, meat
processing plants, extension
[00:01:35.498]offices, the Nebraska
Regional Food Systems Initiative
[00:01:38.688]- and these are all
puzzle pieces,” she said.
[00:01:41.162]“But we’ve never put
the pieces together.
[00:01:43.382]What we want to do with this project
to put the puzzle together and
[00:01:47.502]see the picture of how
regional food systems work.”
[00:01:50.968]As the regional food system comes
into focus, Emery and other leaders
[00:01:54.492]can work to do a better job of connecting
people to fresh, locally produced foods.
[00:01:59.202]The inspiration for the proposal came from
recognizing how under-served populations
[00:02:03.943]in rural communities often struggle to
easily access local and healthy foods.
[00:02:09.691]This issue was exacerbated during the
COVID pandemic, when long supply-chain
[00:02:14.711]lines became disrupted, leaving
many communities without fresh foods.
[00:02:18.755]This project emphasizes the
necessity to rethink local and
[00:02:22.755]regional food supply chains and
how to strengthen them.
[00:02:27.594]Regional food health is a key focus
area of Rural Prosperity Nebraska
[00:02:31.680]and an integral component
of rural community vitality.
[00:02:35.430]“It’s like two sides
of a coin,” Emery said.
[00:02:37.700]“How do we get people to eat healthier if
they can never access fresh, healthy food?
[00:02:42.040]And how do we get people more
interested in producing fresh,
[00:02:45.160]healthy food that they
can take to market?
[00:02:47.300]The farmers, the farmers markets,
the cooperative grocery stores,
[00:02:51.300]the small rural grocery stores,
the Double Up Food Bucks program
[00:02:54.900]- we want to bring all of
them into the network.”
[00:02:58.280]“We want to get the message out to
producers who are producing fresh
[00:03:01.470]foods for local markets that there
are resources out there for you,
[00:03:04.680]and we’re going to make it easier
for you to find them,” Emery said.
[00:03:08.140]“To food consumers,
we want to say
[00:03:09.868]we’re going to help you find more
and better local, healthy foods.”
[00:03:14.070]For Rural Prosperity Nebraska,
I'm Jordan Rasmussen.
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