BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — The BisMan Community Food Co-Op received a grant of $200,000 to help get locally grown food to rural North Dakota — and the United States Department of Agriculture’s under secretary for Rural Development joined the state director earlier Monday.

“We are so beyond excited to have this opportunity,” said Sammy Peterson, BisMan’s Local Food Market produce manager.

In North Dakota, there are many rural communities. Some are far from grocery stores, which can make it difficult to get fresh produce. The USDA Healthy Food Initiative is focused on getting locally grown food to rural areas, where access to fresh food may not be available.

On Monday, the BisMan Food Co-Op hosted a grant meeting and gave a tour of the store. The co-op pairs up with over 80 local farmers and producers for in-store products.

Peterson said that fresh is always best and this grant money will help feed fresh food to people across North Dakota.

“Our farmers will be able to drop off their produce here and we will put that into production and help deliver that to local schools and local communities and rural communities,” explained Peterson.

Peterson said that the first steps to get the ball rolling is to plan with the local farmers and keep open communication with the schools and their purchases. The money is coming from the Health Foods Initiative.
It will help provide a cool storage space at the local co-op.

The co-op will then store the fresh produce, process it and transfer the food to our rural communities. The under secretary pointed out one of the great things she says North Dakota offers.

“USDA Rural Development is committed to building on the strength of local communities,” said Xochitl Torres Small. “One of the great things that North Dakota has to offer is incredible farmers and family farms. Making sure that their kids are healthy is one of North Dakotans’ priorities.”

An additional $135 million will be provided to the Healthy Food Initiative over the next five to six years to help further this process across North Dakota and the United States.