Local grocery pharmacy fights food insecurity in Columbus

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COLUMBUS, Georgia (WRBL) – The Food Mill, a local multipurpose grocery dispensary, received $745,500 from the US Department of Agriculture’s Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP). The funds go to the non-profit organization’s mission to combat food insecurity.

Olivia Amos, the chief executive of The Food Mill, said the organization is in the process of building a farmers’ market, a mobile farmers’ market and a community kitchen. The farmers’ market and the mobile farmers’ market are expected to be completed by mid-March.

“It helps low-income communities like ours have even minimal access to local food, so it’s really mobilized us to be able to build on the work we’ve started,” Amos said.

According to Amos, the LFPP grant that The Food Mill received from the USDA is the largest food promotion grant awarded in the state of Georgia.

The new developments will also create more jobs in the community, including several managers and sales people. The Food Mill will also be the retailer for local farmers, giving them the opportunity to expand their sales through the Farmers’ Market and Mobile Farmers’ Market.

Amos said the mobile farmers’ market will target Columbus Housing Authority communities, areas located in food deserts, and senior communities with disabilities. Through partnerships with various organizations, families who use the Mobile Farmers’ Market are eligible for free groceries, and SNAP Georgia recipients can use their SNAP Dollars at the Farmers’ Market at The Food Mill.

“Transportation is often an obstacle and if you don’t have a shop within walking distance, it’s difficult for families to be able to buy fresh groceries. We want to remove this transportation barrier and make sure we go to our families and minister to them in the neighborhoods where they live,” Amos said.

The community kitchen is located in the Fox Community Center and is shared with the Open Door Community House Culinary. Culinary Incubator participants have a 90-day trial to use the communal kitchen while they build their grocery business.

“It really helps our local economy. Shared kitchen spaces, farmers markets, mobile farmers markets, it’s all about community and each of these pieces work together to create that community aspect to really support our local food entrepreneurs,” said Amos.

The communal kitchen will also be rented after completion. Students at Fox Elementary School and Truth Spring Academy will also incorporate agricultural and culinary subjects into their curriculum that will allow them to utilize the kitchen area.

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