Desert Spoon Food Hub Awarded $445,000 USDA Grant
The USDA awarded Desert Spoon Food Hub with $445,018.90 in grant money to help fund its initiative to increase the market share for small to mid-sized farms over the next three years in the Paso del Norte region.
Desert Spoon Food Hub is a local nonprofit feeding the citizens of Paso del Norte and supporting the small local farmers who grow that food. The organization’s founders, Adriana Clowe, Vanessa Brady and Patsy Terrazas-Stallworth, all have a vision of an inclusive, equitable and resilient food system for El Paso that focuses on local farms and farmers, feeds those with food insecurity and reconnects people with food grown in their own backyard.
The recent grant award was part of the USDA Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP) and recognized Desert Spoon Food Hub for their diligent commitment to the Paso del Norte region, increasing access to affordable, healthy locally grown food, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant will further Desert Spoon’s mission to build a more food secure region, providing increased representation and economic advancement for local farmers.
The COVID-19 pandemic presented arduous challenges to many in the Paso del Norte region, but one notable positive result of people’s time at home is the rediscovered joy of cooking. With evident consumer shifts around value and lifestyle, Desert Spoon noticed a unique opportunity to help local farmers regain their foothold in the region, repositioning them in our local economy, and to attempt to address the inequities in the current food system. Residents in the region face many challenges including high rates of diet-related diseases and food insecurity, issues Desert Spoon is actively working to reduce. As an added challenge, gaps in the region’s food supply chain also leave many local producers without clear lines to bring their products to consumers.
“One thing the pandemic did was it made people stop and wonder what they were eating and where that food was coming from,” says Adriana Clowe, Desert Spoon Food Hub Executive Director. “People are seeing the value in buying local, fresh food products and we want to help farmers in the region take advantage of this window.”
This winning initiative will focus on improved representation and promotion of locally and regionally produced agricultural products in the retail food sector. The project will strengthen and expand the organization’s ability to provide critical support for producers and local retailers as a response to the continued growth in consumer demand for local foods. The project’s objectives will increase the competitiveness and broaden the availability and market share of locally produced agricultural products in retail markets.