Local-food development projects funded in Manitoba

An “agri-network” connecting local-level food producers to regional institutions is among three rural Manitoba projects sharing over a quarter million dollars in federal funding.

Southeastern Manitoba MP and federal Public Safety Minister Vic Toews on Monday announced up to $266,599 for the three projects, including what’s been dubbed the “Manitoba Farm to Cafeteria Project.”

The project calls for rural Manitoba communities to work together to set up the “agri-network,” meant to increase the availability of locally-produced foods for institutions across the province.

The network would collect data on the supply of local food in a specific area and communicate those results through a website.

“It will also provide the opportunity for more and younger producers to become involved in agricultural production with an emphasis on local food,” the government said in a release.

“There is nothing quite like food grown near home and Manitobans continue to place an increasing value on these home-grown products,” Toews said in the release.

“It is encouraging to see businesses and now institutions respecting the desires of Manitobans to purchase foods produced closer to home.”

The second funded project, titled “Re-storing Communities: Improving Retail Food Outlets and Access in Bayline Region Communities,” aims to help small general stores in the province’s Bayline region.

The region is made up of communities accessible only by the Hudson Bay Railway, the former CN line connecting The Pas in Manitoba’s northwest to the Hudson Bay port community of Churchill.

Eligible general stores would get support to help them become “profitable businesses that provide locally-produced nutritious staple foods” and boost residents’ access to healthy and affordable foods.

Further south, the province’s Central Plains region will get funds for a “Cluster Asset Mapping Pilot Project,” meant to identify regional assets and competitive advantages that could lead to new regional business and industry opportunities.

The funding will flow through the federal Community Development Program: Building Rural and Northern Partnerships. The program is meant to help communities better understand their natural and cultural amenities, respond to possible economic opportunities and collaborate at the regional level.

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