Rural communities often face challenges in accessing fresh, healthy, and affordable foods. Reducing food deserts, connecting farmers to consumers, and building local supply chains provides resilience our rural communities need to protect their future.
Legislative Bill (LB) 1201 seeks funding from Nebraska’s allotment of State Recovery Funds provided by the American Rescue Plan Act to help curb food access issues.The bill would provide $20 million to increase local food capacity, thus decreasing Nebraska's reliance on national supply chains, and support partnerships between local businesses and producers.
This funding would produce strong farms, open new markets and support a food economy that preserves a healthy future. In Nebraska, an estimated $4.4 billion is spent annually on food and 90% of that comes from out of state. When food products are grown, processed and sold locally, communities are more resilient to external disruptions, such as pandemics, natural disasters, and worker shortages. Local food production and purchasing are also good for rural economies. It is estimated that for every dollar spent on local food, 76 cents stays in the community. This is compared to only 28 cents when food is purchased from outside our state.
The bill also requests $20 million for food banks to purchase food and improve infrastructure, such as coolers to keep fresh food and vehicles to make last mile deliveries.
The Food Bank for the Heartland, which serves most of rural Nebraska, distributed 25 million pounds of food between January and August of 2021, an 8 million-pound increase over the same period from the previous year.
LB 1201 is an opportunity to support rural residents who are struggling to put food on the table, and at the same time, invest in innovative businesses that will feed families with food grown right here in our state.