The City of Birmingham, AL was recently awarded $298,736 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Urban Agriculture and Innovation Production (UAIP) Competitive Grants Program. It plans to invest the funding in support of research and resources regarding food access. The City also recently approved $1 million of its American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) funds to be designated for healthy food initiatives.
Almost 70% of Birmingham residents live in neighborhoods that are designated as food deserts – an urban area in which it is difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food. A recent study showed that there is at least one area that is identified as a food desert in each of Birmingham’s nine City Council Districts.
The city plans to use the funds to help remove barriers to food access, advance equity, and build capacity through investments in its local food system. A series of studies will be conducted in order to identify where help is most needed – and where it can have the most impact. The studies will include a needs assessment, an urban agriculture market feasibility study, and an agricultural land use suitability analysis.
“Eliminating barriers to healthy food access is a priority,” said Mayor Randall L. Woodfin. “With this funding we hope to invest in local, minority food producers to put healthy food on the tables of our residents. Once we are armed with vital information, we can be strategic and thoughtful about how to grow and improve our food system. Healthy food makes for healthy families, healthy neighborhoods, and a healthy city.”