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How One Area Agency on Aging is Leading the Way

Posted by Vern Orrell, Public Information Coordinator, Virginia Rural Development in Rural
Feb 21, 2017
Deputy Secretary Merrigan and Farmers Market staff in Charlottesville.
Deputy Secretary Merrigan far left shares a humors moment with , Local Food Hub Director Marisa Vrooman, USDA Rural Development State Director Ellen Davis, Local Food Hub Director Kate Collier and Local Food Hub staffer, Alan Moore.

“The Jefferson Area Board for Aging (JABA) are myth-busters, plain and simple,” said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan at a recent funding announcement held at JABA’s main office and Adult Daycare Center in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The Deputy Secretary went on to say, “They show us all that you can utilize locally grown food for meals on a daily basis and actually improve the quality of nutrition for those participating in the daily meal delivery programs.”

The USDA assistance being provided through the Farmers Market Promotion Program was one of 77 totaling more than $4 million nationwide that were announced by the Deputy Secretary Thursday, October 14th.

JABA will be receiving a $54,800 grant from USDA to conduct a feasibility study on constructing a frozen food operation in the central Virginia area using locally sourced and Virginia-grown food for individual frozen meals and bulk frozen produce for their non-profit meal programs.

JABA’s goal is to produce its own meals for approximately 50,000 Home Delivery recipients in and around the Charlottesville area. They also have a goal of supplying other area agencies on aging with individual frozen meals and providing bulk frozen local produce to other institutional meal programs.

A key partner in this vision is the Local Food Hub, a Charlottesville nonprofit located just a few miles from JABA. The Local Food Hub works on a daily basis to supply JABA, along with over 35 area restaurants with locally grown foods.

Gordon Walker, CEO for JABA added, “Meals will be sourced locally from area farmers, be nutritionally balanced, and tastefully seasoned without salt and sugar so as to offer a delicious healthy meal that can be tailored for those seniors requiring alternative meals and those on restricted diets.”

When the study is complete and if feasible, JABA intends to pursue assistance from USDA Rural Development to build the facility and in addition to providing nutritional meals to seniors, create new jobs in the fresh foods industry for the region.

Deputy Secretary Merrigan announces funding for the Farmers Market Promotion Program at an event in Virginia
Deputy Secretary Merrigan announces funding for the Farmers Market Promotion Program at an event in Virginia
Category/Topic: Rural