EASTON — U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md.-1st, announced Thursday, Oct. 29, that the Easton Economic Development Corp. has been awarded a $199,969 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help improve food safety among farmers and specialty crop producers on the Mid-Shore.

The grant was part of close to $345,000 worth of federal grants for Eastern Shore organizations announced by Harris on Thursday, which were part of $871 million in grants the Trump administration announced the USDA is investing to improve critical community facilities.

“Rural America needs safe, modern community infrastructure to help residents and businesses achieve greater prosperity and have access to essential services,” USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Bette Brand said. “Under the leadership of President (Donald) Trump and Agriculture Secretary (Sonny) Perdue, USDA continues to be a strong partner to rural communities, because we know that when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”

The other federal grants referenced by Harris include a $15,950 Communities Facilities Grant to Friends of the Grape Inc. for the Caroline County Public Schools to buy a refrigerated van to transport meals to children and seniors during the coronavirus. Caroline County groups have been transporting meals to 1,200 students and 300 seniors each day during the pandemic.

Denise Lovelady, USDA Rural Development state director for Maryland and Delaware, said “The Trump Administration is dedicated to providing critical investments in rural communities. I am pleased USDA Rural Development can assist Friends of the Grape Inc. with their critical mission of providing nutritious meals to children and seniors in need.”

The targeted delivery area at this time is the Marydel, Templeville, and Henderson area. This area has been identified as a Food Desert by Johns Hopkins. Currently 15,000 nutritious meals per week are delivered to these three areas of Caroline County, and the route takes three to four hours each day to complete. The refrigerated van will allow food to be held at proper temperatures, in order to minimize the risk a food borne illness, and will allow for further outreach of service.

Harris also announced Maryland Capital Enterprises in Salisbury and the Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center in Easton have been award USDA Rural Development grants of $95,445 and $33,617, respectively, to offer small business loans and offer training and technical assistance to businesses on the Eastern Shore. The grants are geared toward helping rural small business including micro-enterprises.

“As a member of the Agriculture Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations, I applaud the award of these grants to the Eastern Shore. Programs in the Department of Agriculture are critical to the First Congressional District – whether it be supporting vulnerable populations during the pandemic, working to expand best practice techniques for farmers, or advising startup companies. Grants like these help local businesses compete, strengthen the regional economy, and improve lives in our community,” Harris said in a statement.

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