Funds will provide fresh, local produce to food-insecure Georgians.
ATLANTA, GA — A nearly $1 million federal grant awarded to Wholesome Wave Georgia (WWG) will increase affordable access to fresh, healthy, locally grown food for Georgians across the state, including thousands of food-insecure people in communities across Metro Atlanta.
WWG is one of 19 organizations in the country — and the only one in Georgia — included in this year’s USDA grant cycle, which is an overall investment of more than $52 million to improve dietary health and access to fresh fruits and vegetables for eligible families across the U.S.
“USDA is delivering on its promise to bolster food and nutrition security for underserved communities,” said Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, USDA’s Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics. “Investments like this enable people to afford and eat healthy fresh fruits and vegetables so they don’t have to make a choice between healthy eating and cheaper, less healthier options.”
WWG’s USDA grant — a total of $994,613 that is contingent on unlocking local matching funds provided by individual donors, foundations, and municipalities — will allow for investment in dollar-for-dollar matching of EBT/SNAP benefits (commonly referred to as food stamps) over the next three years on produce purchased at participating farmers markets, farm stands, mobile markets, and retailers.
“Wholesome Wave Georgia is honored to be selected for this critical funding, which supports families and small, independent producers across Georgia,” said Will Sellers, WWG’s Executive Director. “The USDA understands that when we increase access we empower families, support producers and generate economic wins for Georgia’s communities. This grant is transformative for Wholesome Wave Georgia, and will significantly advance our impact and mission.”
Since 2009, WWG has contributed $5.5 million in economic impact to communities around the state. Since 2020, WWG has seen a 96% growth in use of this dollar-for-dollar match in Georgia and a 133% growth in SNAP shoppers, a clear demonstration of the need for WWG’s increased state outreach. In Metro Atlanta from 2020 through 2022, WWG made approximately $334,000 in direct investment to double shoppers’ spending power on produce at local farmers markets, farms, and retailers.
“Wholesome Wave Georgia shares our mission of helping everyone have access to fresh food, and it has supported our work since we began,” said Katie Hayes, Executive Director of Community Farmers Markets, which was founded in 2011 to meet Atlanta’s demand for more efficiently-managed, community-based, sustainable farmers markets. “People who need healthy, fresh options most often lack access, and Wholesome Wave Georgia helps us increase accessibility to everyone.”
WWG’s new round of federal support will allow the organization to expand its reach to assist more communities battling food insecurity, particularly rural communities where access to locally grown fruits and vegetables is disproportionately impacted by lack of transportation, low wages, and underemployment.
“This funding will enable us to expand WWG’s services to new and high-need communities, especially those without sufficient access to fresh and healthy food,” says Alex Duncan, WWG’s Fresh for Less Program Manager. “The grant will increase accessibility of the program by adding local food outlets that relieve additional barriers to nutrition security, like a lack of transportation.”
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