Local Organizations to Benefit from $4 Million Grant

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COLUMBIA - Missouri River Communities Network is one of several organizations to benefit from a $4 million dollar grant. The organization will receive about $66,000 dollars and plans to expand one of their projects.

MRCN sponsors The Missouri Local Food Production and Education project. It includes small businesses, non-profit organizations, public schools, and more. The goal is to improve the capacity of food producers to grow food locally. It currently includes 9 non-profit organizations.

With the additionally funding it hopes to add more volunteers.

Steve Johnson, executive director for MRCN, says the grant itself will pay for the living allowance for AmeriCorps members and the administration of the entire program.

"The three non-profit organizations will benefit significantly because they will have AmeriCorps members work in 15 different schools in that community doing education in their outdoor classroom gardens," Johnson said

The MRCN recruits AmeriCorps volunteers to direct certain aspects of the organization. Each volunteer gets assigned to a non-profit organization.

The program specifically allows children in schools to visit the Urban Farm in Columbia during class time. They then learn how to grow and produce food. Johnson says the goal is to encourage young people to want to learn how to harvest food and learn about nutrition.

"It's an excellent opportunity for us to work with different non-profit organizations and help them have staff that will provide them with people to undertake activities and increase their ability for them to provide educational lessons in the schools," Johnson said.

Johnson says this project and funding will allow AmeriCorps members to reach additional children to expand the program. He also says they will work hard with the grant money to expand this project to other schools and other non-profits organizations.

MRCN is currently still looking for additional VISTA AmeriCorps members for recruiting up until June 30. Visit their website www.moriver.org for more information.

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