In March, Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) introduced H.R. 4971, the Greening Food Deserts Act, to help increase local agricultural production and fresh food availability in U.S. communities known as “food deserts” because of their limited access to affordable and nutritious food.
The bill looks at problems such as outsourcing and rising costs of transporting food over long distances as well as positive trends such as the recent increase in new farms that have begun smaller, less consolidated operations and the steady growth of farmers’ markets throughout the United States.
This bill is an important step in rethinking the role of the USDA, which has traditionally focused on maximizing large-scale production as a way of carrying out its mandate to promote agriculture, food safety and nutrition. The bill asks the USDA to empower community garden programs, expand access to nutritious food by better connecting local communities with local farmers and promote agricultural education in schools. Community-based investment keeps resources circulating locally, and has the potential not only to build community assets but also to strengthen social ties.
NETWORK supports this piece of legislation, and urges members of Congress to show their support by signing on as co-sponsors