Growing Food Connections

Building local government capacity to promote food access

Growing Food Connections logo.

Professor of urban planning Samina Raja is the principal investigator for this five-year comprehensive research, education, and extension initiative aimed at strengthening local and regional food systems in the United States by building local governments' capacity to reconnect farmers with under-served consumers.

The research team will conduct a national study of innovative food systems policies that simultaneously promote food access and strengthen the local and regional agricultural sector. Drawing on the successes and challenges of these policies, the team will develop policy tools and provide technical assistance to 20 vulnerable urban and rural communities in the United States. The technical assistance is designed to build the capacity of their local government staff, extension educators, consumers, and farmers to develop and implement more effective food system policies.

In order to nurture the next generation of food systems policy thinkers and professionals, the team will prepare and disseminate multi-disciplinary curricular materials on food systems planning and policy for adoption in universities across the United States.

Grant Amount/Duration

Funding Agency

USDA/NIFA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Food Systems Program

Lead Team Members

Samina Raja, PhD
Principal Investigator, Growing Food Connections
Professor, School of Architecture and Planning, University at Buffalo
Principal Investigator, Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab

Jill Clark, PhD
Co-Principal Investigator, Growing Food Connections
Assistant Professor, John Glenn School of Public AffairsOhio State University

Julia Freedgood, MA
Co-Principal Investigator, Growing Food Connections
Assistant Vice President of Programs, American Farmland Trust

Kimberley Hodgson, MURP, MS, AICP, RD
Co-Principal Investigator, Growing Food Connections
Principal, Cultivating Healthy Places