BALTIMORE – On World Food Day 2015, U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (Both D-Md.) announced that the Historic East Baltimore Community Action Coalition (HEBCAC), Inc. has received an $800,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to support the construction of City Seeds-Baltimore Food Enterprise Center. The City Seeds- Baltimore Food Enterprise Center is a shared use commercial kitchen facility that would allow small businesses, urban farmers and other food entrepreneurs to use the facility as needed to distribute their products. The facility would also accommodate local urban farmers, gardeners and other growers seeking to either further process their fresh crop (wash, sort, cut and package) or produce a product with a shelf life.
“We can vanquish the food deserts experienced by one in four Baltimore City residents through efforts like this that strengthen local efforts to bring fresh and healthy foods to local neighborhoods. These federal funds will empower Baltimore’s small businesses and urban farmers to sow the seeds of food security where it is most needed,” said Senator Cardin, a member of the Senate Finance and Health Care Committees. “We know that a lack of access to food, especially fresh and healthy food can lead to a number of health-related issues as well as problems learning in school in school and preforming at work. This public private partnership between HEBCAC and the federal government will make a difference in people’s lives through better nutrition. The Food Enterprise Center will also help small businesses grow while creating jobs in East Baltimore and beyond. I look forward to finding more opportunities to connect federal resources with private-sector organizations committed to improving the quality of life for Baltimore City residents.”
“These federal dollars through a public/private partnership will help get rid of food deserts and create jobs in Baltimore by supporting small business that bring healthy food right to where Baltimore families need it the most,” Senator Mikulski said. “As a social worker, I know the importance of nutrition assistance to those who need it most. That’s why I’m for smart federal investments that reflect our American values of protecting our country and neighbor helping neighbor. From the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program that helps pregnant and postpartum women to the Farmers Market Nutrition Program that helps low-income families have better access to healthy food. No one should ever have to choose between paying the rent or buying food.”
City Seeds will create jobs for low-income individuals through its support of emerging and expanding food-related businesses. The center will also and attract new investment in the local food economy further increasing employment opportunities for low income people in the community. In total, the center is expected to create 144 jobs.
In June, Senator Cardin held a community roundtable at the Matthew A. Henson Elementary School. During the roundtable several community leaders and attendees stressed the need to eliminate food deserts in Baltimore City. In April, Senator Cardin hosted a discussion in Baltimore’s historic Woodberry neighborhood to identify ways to promote the efforts of the many local small businesses involved in the farm-to-table movement.
As Vice Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Mikulski has fought for investments in critical nutrition assistance for low-income families and communities that need it most. In June, Senator Mikulski joined U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan at a roundtable in Baltimore to discuss barriers to healthy food over the summer for students.