The Emerging ChangeMakers Network (ECN) is collaborating with healthy food activists at PolicyLink, The Reinvestment Fund and The Food Trust as it seeks funding for a healthy foods initiative in Alabama.
“Alabama has a rich heritage of growing healthy food and feeding our own communities,” said Jessica Norwood, ECN founder and director. “Right now, Alabamians spend $2.2 billion to purchase food from outside the state. That’s 92 percent of all food dollars leaving our community. If we can reclaim a portion of this, we can help bring real wealth into the hands of Alabamians.
“We are embarking on a mission to create food hubs for distribution, more supermarkets, food cooperatives—even small food trucks—so that people in our underserved communities will have healthy food, grown locally,” she added. “ECN is delighted to be the new Alabama stakeholder in this network of activists.”
These nonprofit organizations support the federal Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI), created in 2011 to fight the growing number of food deserts in the U.S. Both the House and Senate versions of the 2013 Farm Bill contain directives for $35 million in funding for HFFI, as well as additional incentives through the New Markets Tax Credit program.
Norwood created ECN in 2007 to connect emerging leaders back to their communities in the rural South. It is now a 500-plus membership organization in Alabama, working to address economic inequity by creating strategies to support investment in healthy food systems. The Ford Foundation has been a financial supporter of ECN as part of the foundation’s project, Wealth Creation in Rural America.
In the featured photo at top is ECN’s Jessica Norwood.