The Mountain Harvest Community Market will receive nearly $105,000 in grant funding to improve access to healthy foods in Salmon, Idaho, the Idaho USDA Rural Development office announced this month.
The grant was made on behalf of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Healthy Food and Financing Initiative.
“The Healthy Food Financing Initiative aims to improve access to healthy foods in underserved areas, to create and preserve quality jobs and to revitalize low-income communities,” the USDA Rural Development website said. “The program aims to build a more equitable food system that supports the health and economic vibrancy of all Americans.”
With a population of a little over 3,000 people, Salmon residents enjoy the town’s mountainous landscape and rivers. However, the town’s rural location limits the kinds of foods that reach the community.
The grant is one of many efforts to improve access to healthy foods, especially in places with lower incomes and few grocery stores — places often called “food deserts.”
One of the three census tracts in Lemhi County, where Salmon is located, has a population that is both low-income and at least a 10-mile drive from the nearest supermarket, according to the USDA’s Food Access Research Atlas.
Jessica Henroid, the owner of Mountain Harvest Community Market and recipient of the grant, said that Salmon residents have to drive long distances at times to find healthy food options.
“It costs a lot of money to ship goods to Salmon,” Henroid said. “We try to buy local as much as possible since we are two and a half hours from bigger towns like Idaho Falls and Missoula.”
Henroid and her husband moved to Salmon from Missouri with the goal to start a healthy foods store. The couple partnered with Swift River Farm — an 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 then fostered a close-knit relationship with residents.
As owners of the market, 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 money for healthy foods, so we are going to use the grant to lower our prices to make it more affordable to customers,” she said. “We’re also wanting 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 Healthy Food and Financing Initiative in the state of Idaho.
“This program has funded millions of dollars in many states throughout the country. Up until now Idaho was not one of them, but we have so much need here. Hopefully this is the first of many rural communities in Idaho that will continue to benefit from public-private partnerships,” USDA Rural Development State Director Rudy Soto said.
Henroid said Idaho businesses thinking of applying for the grant should consider the importance of helping a community improve.
“Don’t be scared of the grant process,” she said. “It’s a lot of time and work, but it’s completely worth it. It’s so important to do what we can to lower prices and bring more variety to customers. I think people should just apply and take advantage of this opportunity to make their town and community better, because I’m so glad that we did.”
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