Salmon Store is the first recipient of Idaho’s Food and Health Funding Initiative

The Mountain Harvest Community Market It will receive nearly $105,000 in grant funding to improve access to healthy foods in Salmon, Idaho, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Rural Development in Idaho announced this month.

The grant was made on behalf of the US Department of Agriculture’s Food and Health Funding Initiative.

The Healthy Food Financing Initiative aims to improve access to healthy foods in underserved areas, create and maintain quality jobs and revitalize low-income communities,” the USDA Rural Development website reported. The program aims to build a more equitable diet that supports the health and economic vitality of all Americans.

With a population of just over 3,000 people, salmon residents enjoy the city’s mountainous and river landscapes. However, the town’s rural location limits the types of foods that reach the community.

The USDA Food Access Research Atlas shows areas in Idaho where access to healthy food is difficult. The areas colored in orange are low-income census areas where a large percentage of the population have to travel more than 10 miles to reach the nearest supermarket.

The grant is one of many efforts to improve access to healthy foods, especially in low-income places and few grocery stores — places often called “food deserts.”

One of the three census areas in Lemhi County, where the salmon is located, has low-income residents and is at least a 10-mile drive from the nearest supermarket, according to the USDA Food Access Research Atlas.

Jessica Henroid, owner of Mountain Harvest Community Marketplace and grantee, said salmon residents sometimes have to drive long distances to find healthy food options.

“Shipping goods to salmon costs a lot of money,” Henroid said. “We try to buy as local as possible because we’re two and a half hours away from major cities like Idaho Falls and Missoula.”

Henroid and her husband moved to Salmon from Missouri with the goal of starting a health food store. The couple has partnered with Swift River Farm Organic vegetable farm To provide locally grown fruits and vegetables to salmon residents.

The Mountain Harvest Community Market opened its doors in June 2020 and has since fostered a close relationship with the residents.

As market owners, Henroid and her husband hope to use the grant to ease the financial burden residents face trying to find healthy foods.

“You have to pay more for healthy foods, so we’ll use the grant to lower our prices to make it more affordable for customers,” she said. “We also want to expand our store and add more coolers and air conditioners.”

The Mountain Harvest Community Market is the first organization to receive a grant from the Food and Health Funding Initiative in Idaho.

“This program has funded millions of dollars in many states across the country. So far Idaho hasn’t been one of them, but we desperately need it here. Hopefully, this will be the first of many rural communities in Idaho that will continue to benefit from public-private partnerships,State Director of Rural Development at the US Department of Agriculture Rudy Soto said.

Henroid said that Idaho companies considering applying for the grant should consider the importance of helping the community improve.

“Don’t be afraid of the grant process,” she said. “It’s a lot of time and work, but it’s totally worth it. It’s very important that we do what we can to lower prices and bring more diversity to customers. I think people should just step up and take advantage of this opportunity to improve their city and community, because I’m so glad we did” .

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