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Donations sought for local food center

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    Texas Center for Local Food executive director Susan Beckwith gives a presentation on the problems facing Elgin which she hopes the Elgin Local Food Center will help solve. File photo

The Texas Center for Local Foods continues to race against a September deadline to raise funds for the Elgin Local Food Center, seeking contributions from the community as well as Texas foundations.

The Elgin Local Food Center, which is planned for downtown Elgin, would provide a kitchen and education center for community cooking events, businesses and educational resources. Additional resources could include freezers and coolers, food preparation areas, a teaching room, a smoke pit and more.

The project would cost $2.3 million, which includes construction costs and three years of operating costs before breaking even. In March 2018, Elgin Economic Development Corporation (EDC) committed $800,000 towards the project, with the condition that the Texas Center for Local Food is able to raise an additional $800,000 by September 30.

The organization is currently applying for grants from Texas foundations to match the EDC funds, but they are also looking for help from the community. Last week, they began a fundraising campaign on social media asking for donations from the community.

Donations of any amount can be given at texaslocalfood.org/donate, and the funds raised will go directly towards funding the construction of the building and educational programming to be offered at the center. All donors’ names will be inscribed on the wall of the center.

Texas Center for Local Food executive director Susan Beckwith said showing that the project has committed grassroots support, such as donations from the community, is important when applying for outside funding via grants.

Within the first couple of hours, the fundraiser brought in $100, Beckwith said. As of Monday morning, about $866 were raised by individuals and local businesses. Beckwith is confident the fundraising campaign will gain momentum.

The goal of the Elgin Local Food Center is to help solve some of the problems around poverty and health in Elgin and surrounding area, in part by developing jobs and businesses around local food in Elgin and promoting healthy food access in the surrounding area.

Elgin, like much of Texas, has a long history of agriculture, Beckwith said, but many rural towns now face problems with diet-related chronic disease.

Additionally, Beckwith sees the Elgin Local Food Center as a model for other communities looking for local jobs and healthier food. The concept of the Elgin Local Food Center is similar to the many local food centers in Canada, as well as a few similar institutions in the United States.

“The economic and community potential of the Elgin Local Food Center project, and projects like it around the country, is huge,” she said. “It is nothing short of being able to revitalize our rural communities, and these communities like Elgin that are beginning to be urbanized. Let's use our agricultural assets to solve the problems that we have here in Elgin and other towns like (Elgin).”