The Mountain Harvest Community Market will receive nearly $105,000 in grants to improve access to healthy food in Salmon, Idaho, the USDA Idaho Office of Rural Development announced this month.
The grant was awarded on behalf of the Healthy Eating Initiative and funding from the US Department of Agriculture.
“The Healthy Food Funding Initiative aims to improve access to healthy food in underserved areas, create and sustain quality jobs, and revitalize low-income communities,” the website said. of USDA Rural Development. “The program aims to build a more equitable food system that supports the health and economic vibrancy of all Americans.”
With a population of just over 3,000 people, residents of Salmon enjoy the town’s mountainous landscape and rivers. However, the town’s rural location limits the types of food that reach the community.
The grant is one of many efforts to improve access to healthy foods, especially in places with low incomes and few grocery stores — places often called “food deserts.”
One of three census tracts in Lemhi County, where Salmon is located, has a low-income population and is at least a 10-mile drive from the nearest supermarket, according to the USDA’s Food Access Research Atlas.
Jessica Henroid, owner of the Mountain Harvest Community Market and recipient of the grant, said Salmon residents sometimes have to travel long distances to find healthy food options.
“It costs a lot of money to ship goods to Salmon,” Henroid said. “We try to buy local as much as possible since we are two and a half hours from major cities like Idaho Falls and Missoula.”
Henroid and her husband moved to Salmon from Missouri with the goal of starting a healthy food store. The couple teamed up with Swift River Farm — an organic vegetable farm — provide locally grown fruits and vegetables to residents of Salmon.
The Mountain Harvest Community Market opened in June 2020 and has maintained a close relationship with residents ever since.
As owners of the market, Henroid and her husband hope to use the grant to ease the financial burden residents face trying to find healthy food.
“You have to pay more money for healthy food, so we’ll use the subsidy to lower our prices to make them more affordable for customers,” she said. “We also want to expand our store and add more coolers and air conditioners.”
The Mountain Harvest Community Market is the first organization to receive a grant from the Healthy Food and Financing Initiative in the state of Idaho.
“This program has funded millions of dollars in many states across the country. Until now, Idaho wasn’t one of them, but we need it so badly here. Hopefully, this is the first of many rural communities in Idaho that will continue to benefit from public-private partnerships,“said USDA State Director of Rural Development Rudy Soto.
Henroid said Idaho businesses considering applying for the grant should consider the importance of helping a community improve.
“Don’t be afraid of the grant process,” she says. “It’s a lot of time and work, but it’s definitely worth it. It’s so important to do what we can to lower prices and provide more variety to customers. I think people should just apply and take this opportunity to better their city and community because I’m so glad we did.
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