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Connecticut awards Bridgeport co-op a $500,000 grant to help urban food desert

"City Fresh" Bridgeport's East End NRZ Market and Cafe effort to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to an un logo
Ebong Udoma
"City Fresh" Bridgeport's East End NRZ Market and Cafe's effort to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to food desert neighborhood

A Bridgeport food co-op has been awarded a $500,000, three-year state grant to help enhance its work providing fresh produce for purchase in a city neighborhood considered an urban food desert.

The initiative called “City Fresh” is aimed at not only providing local produce to food deserts but also to teach the community to cook with the fresh fruits and vegetables and make culturally relevant meals.

The grant would be used to help the East End NRZ Market and Café provide locally grown farm produce to its customers, said Bryan Hurlburt, commissioner for the Department of Agriculture.

“If you don’t have access to food, everything else is harder in your life. You can’t learn, you can’t work, you can’t function,” Hurlburt said. “So making local fresh food available, that people would actually eat, is really important from a public health standpoint.”

The program is also aimed at helping sustain local farmers.

“Investing those dollars in Connecticut farmers to supply the food is a great investment in local food systems and agriculture and small businesses. So it's a win, win,” he added.

It is part of a U.S. Department of Agriculture program for local food procurement aimed at supporting farmers who’ve historically been excluded from other federal programs.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.