On Oct. 14 Gov. Laura Kelly joined Kansas Department of Agriculture Secretary Mike Beam and Kansas Department of Commerce Secretary David Toland to visit Yoder Meats in Yoder, Kansas. Kelly announced over $9 million has been committed for projects to strengthen the state’s food supply system. Yoder Meats is one of 183 Kansas agriculture and food-related businesses and individuals across the state awarded grants as part of the Securing Local Food Systems grant program.

“The pandemic has served to remind the country how critical it is that we protect our food supply system,” Laura Kelly said. “As they always have, Kansas agriculture and food businesses have stepped up to the challenge. Our agriculture workers have kept food in the stores and on the tables for Kansans and Americans across the nation.”

The Securing Local Food Systems grant is one of several grants made possible in the second round of the federal CARES Act funding and approved by the Strengthening People and Revitalizing Kansas (SPARK) Task Force. It was created to increase capacity of Kansas’ local food systems and available to for-profit and not-for-profit businesses, including direct-to-consumer producers/growers/vendors, food processors, slaughter and processing facilities, food banks, pantries, soup kitchens, farmers’ markets, and retail food outlets such as grocery stores.

“These grants will allow local food and agriculture businesses to expand their capability to respond to the food supply needs in their communities,” Beam said. “Local businesses like Yoder Meats are critical to providing food to Kansans, and that need was made clear throughout this year.”

Yoder Meats provides custom meat processing, along with wholesale and retail meat products and locker rental in south central Kansas. The grant will allow them to increase their storage capacity.

“Between the hundreds of jobs they’ve created and the economic stimulus they provide to Kansas communities, these grantees are essential to our state’s economy,” Secretary of Commerce David Toland said. “Financial blows dealt by the pandemic have been felt everywhere in our state, and these dollars are designed to both aid in our state’s economic recovery and to build a more resilient food system for the future.”

The grant money can be used for a wide scope of capital expenses related to increasing the capacity of the food-related businesses, including but not limited to: rental of buildings/facilities to expand capacity, facility reconfiguration to meet social distancing guidelines, technology that improves business resilience, costs associated with sanitation or worker safety, costs associated with increased inspections, and many more. Grants will cover capacity-related improvements made since March 1, 2020, through December 30, 2020. The grants range from $2,500 to $100,000, depending on the type of applicant and the project scope.

Applications were accepted beginning Aug. 19 and were reviewed by the Kansas Department of Agriculture, the Kansas Department for Children and Families, and the Kansas Department of Commerce. Other grants that were awarded in the second round of the CARES Act funding included funding for small business working capital, PPE procurement and manufacturing, bioscience product development, community connectivity and broadband, and more.

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