Alaska Department of Natural Resources offering grants to improve food security

Alaska Department of Natural Resources offering grants to improve food security
Published: Mar. 2, 2022 at 10:54 AM AKST
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PALMER, Alaska (KTUU) - The Alaska Department of Natural Resources Division of Agriculture is taking a new approach to this year’s Microgrants for Food Security Program.

The department this year has $2 million allocated towards the program. The grants provide funding for agriculture projects, such as building a garden or small-scale livestock operations, helping folks put food directly on their table if there’s a disruption in the food supply chain.

Organizations, such as food-based donation centers, can purchase food as well. So far, they have had about 600 applications and are expected to be able to fulfill around 400 of those applications. Unlike previous years, the public can choose to apply for one of 20 preset grants this year.

“The whole avenue of things that have qualified in the past from microgrants, what we’ve done is we’ve categorized them in fixed amounts,” David Schade, Director of the Alaska Division of Agriculture, said.

Individuals can be awarded between $500 to $5,000, and organizations can be awarded up to $10,000. The new process the department said will help maximize the reach of the grants and help more communities.

“We will prioritize the more food insecure areas we can continue to work from the most food-insecure areas to the least,” Schade said.

He said the new change will make for a more simple and effective process.

“The whole idea has been to simplify the process but keeping it competitive as required under federal law,” Schade said.

After the first round of applications last year, Schade said, took them a year and a half to go through.

“That’s just not an acceptable turnaround time,” Schade said.

The new application process would shrink the timeframe down to two months, helping to get funding into the hands of those who need it quicker.

“The goal is ... we’ve now contracted the first year’s grants, so folks can get into these projects this summer. We want these fixed grants to be available for funding this summer as well,” Schade said.

Applications can be found online on the division’s website. Schade said the application process can take several hours to complete. The deadline is 5 p.m. on March 30. However, Schade recommends that people get the application done sooner in case of any technical issues.

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