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Make Healthy Foods More Accessible

Photo of two children exploring a garden.USDA has a variety of resources and programs for making healthy food more accessible in your community:

USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative works to strengthen local and regional food systems. The Know Your Farmer Compass and Compass Map share what USDA resources are available for increasing access to healthy, local food. Use the Compass to find projects in your community and to build partnerships.

USDA's People's Garden Initiative encourages all Americans to create collaborative garden projects that benefit their community and sustain the environment. Gardens are a great way to bring your community together and increase access to healthy, affordable food for those in need. On the People's Garden site, you'll find gardening resources that range from educational' to financial and technical.

The Farmers Market Promotion Program awards grant funding to support local food systems through direct marketing. Direct marketing includes farmers markets, roadside stands, community-supported agriculture, agri-tourism and other direct producer-to-consumer marketing opportunities. Projects can increase access to local foods by low-income consumers, expand opportunities for farmers and growers to market their raise customer awareness of local farm products through promotion and outreach.

The USDA National Farmers Market Directory allows users to search for farmers markets in their area, and allows users to tell whether SNAP benefits are an accepted form of payment in those markets.

The Community Food Projects program provides matching grant funds to projects that promote self-sufficiency and food security in low-income communities through food projects. These projects are intended to unite the whole food system together to assess strengths, establish linkages, and create systems that improve the self-reliance of community members over their food needs.

The Specialty Crop Block Grant is awarded to projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops, including fruits and vegetables. Eligible organizations apply directly to their state department of agriculture for funding. Project ideas can include school and community gardens, farm-to-school programs, and projects that improve specialty crop access in underserved communities.

Gleaning ensures that excess foods from farmers, restaurants, stores and other institutions don't go to waste. If you have food you would like to donate, or are looking for information on how to fortify your food pantry shelves, check out the USDA Gleaning Guide to learn more about starting a gleaning program in your community.