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City Council Transfers $300K for Grant to Increase Healthy Food Options

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As a way to combat food deserts across the city of Birmingham, the City Council approved an ordinance to transfer $298,686 in grant money to create a program to identify areas of need and to help bolster healthy food options across the city.

Food insecurity is an issue that impacts a majority of residents in the city of Birmingham and the City Council has made concerted efforts to help address this situation.

“Building equity in our community, especially as it relates to food insecurity, must address these issues in such a way that ensures healthy, affordable food options for residents that live in one of Birmingham’s designated food deserts,” Councilor Crystal Smitherman said. “This past year, I partnered with local farmers and vendors to for monthly farmer’s markets across District 6 in Birmingham. Not only was this an opportunity for residents to access fresh produce, but also allowed them to build relationships with local farmers.”

According to a recent study published by the University of Alabama at Birmingham, in Alabama alone close to two million residents live in a food desert, and almost 150,000 of them live in Birmingham. This accounts for 69% of the city’s total population. Addressing food insecurity is as much about environmental justice as it is about racial equity.

This budget ordinance will create a budget line item for a grant received by the USDA.

This grant will help to hire a food system manager to expand food access strategies across the city. It will also help support the expansion of farmers markets in the Birmingham area.

Jones Valley Teaching Farm, based in Birmingham, previously received a grant of this nature to create a food fellowship program to establish urban farms across the city.

Updated at 1:00 p.m. on 5/25/2023 to clarify that Jones Valley Teaching Farm previously received a similar grant from the USDA.