AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)– Augusta Locally Grown is expanding quickly. In a week’s time, the organization has received two major grants totaling over $200,000. The money will go toward making healthy food more accessible for everyone, especially people in the Harrisburg and Laney Walker Communities.
The HUB for Community Innovation will house the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Augusta’s headquarters, and four community partners, including Augusta Locally Grown.
“Ever since the HUB was announced, we’ve seen people be generous and give to Augusta Locally Grown,” executive director of Augusta Locally Grown, Rebecca van Loenen said.
Generous giving including a $200,000 grant from the US Department of Agriculture.
This money will primarily fund Augusta Locally Grown’s nine month study determining the best ways to support farmers and increase community access to food.
“It’s a game changer for Georgia in general. In Georgia, we don’t have a lot of food hubs, now we’ve got the HUB coming, which will be a food hub as well as food and wellness combined, but there’s never been a study done like this before in Georgia,” van Loenen said.
Augusta Locally Grown also received $14,750 from the Community Foundation for the CSRA, which will offset costs of the Fresh Food to You program. The program consists of 12 pop-up markets in the Harrisburg and Laney Walker Communities, including delivery to those living in a food desert with limited transportation.
“I was ecstatic!” van Loenen said. “Finding out that we got the full amount, for us and this program, it’s a game changer because we’ve never had this type of farmer’s market that goes directly to where somebody is living. So I’m floored, I’m still floored.”
She says the organization is seeing the community rally behind them in force they haven’t seen before.
“A lot of days you’re literally in the soil doing the work and you don’t have time to look up. And a lot of times, it’s our community that’s right beside us,” van Loenen said. “But to have so many partners back us and say, ‘No, the work that you’re doing is good,’ and it’s validated, means a lot.”