Breaking News: Nashville allocates $7.2 million in budget for farmers, food banks and families.

The LFPA Plus funding is restored.

Breaking News: Nashville allocates $7.2 million in budget for farmers, food banks and families.

On Thursday afternoon, as it passed its $52.8 billion budget, Tennessee lawmakers voted to restore $7.2 million in lost funding for small farmers, families and food banks.

The $7.2 million was originally part of a federal grant called LFPA Plus that directed American Rescue Plan dollars to state food banks, allowing them to purchase produce and meat from small farmers across the state. Tennessee had participated in the grant's predecessor – the LFPA, or Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement – and received $8.2 million for our state's five food banks.

Yet after Tennessee Dept. of Agriculture (TDA) missed multiple USDA deadlines, the $7.2 million was lost. Over the last several weeks, Republican and Democratic legislators worked in bipartisan fashion, finding a solution in the budget passed on Thursday.

"In the General Assembly’s budget proposal, lawmakers earmarked $7.2 million of existing funds in the Department of Agriculture’s budget for the Local Food Purchase Cooperative Agreement program," said Molly Gormley, press secretary for the Republican Senate Caucus. "This move ensures those relying on the program receive the funds needed to serve Tennesseans."

Across the state, farmers and food bank officials rejoiced.

"Awesome!" said Jane Mauldin, owner of Wheeler's Orchard in Dunlap.

Jane Mauldin, Wheeler's Orchard, Main St. Farmers' Market, Chatt., Tenn.

"All of our Tennessee legislators ultimately supported recouping these funds, and for that I am extremely grateful," said Jeannine Carpenter, director of advocacy for the Chattanooga Area Food Bank. "The LFPA program benefits, everyone – the Tennessee economy, Tennessee farmers and producers, hungry Tennesseans and food banks."

Gormley said the funding is not "additional money" given to TDA.

"The earmarked funds come from the Department of Agriculture’s budget to fill the gap in funding for the LFPA program," she said.

Food as a Verb will publish a larger report on Friday.

All photography by Sarah Unger (

All design by Alex DeHart

All words by David Cook (

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