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Lehigh Valley’s Local Food Economy Generates $17 million in Economic Activity

By LVEDC Staff on November 12, 2013

Report indicates it has the potential to address food access issues

A new Assessment Report of the Lehigh Valley local food economy released today states that local foods generate $17 million in economic activity for the Lehigh Valley annually and have the potential to contribute much more.

The report, prepared by the Greater Lehigh Valley chapter of Buy Fresh Buy Local (BFBL-GLV), is part of efforts to update the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission’s Comprehensive Plan into a new Sustainability Plan and is funded in part by a Regional Planning Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The report is available at both the BFBL-GLV and Envision Lehigh Valley websites.

http://www.buylocalgreaterlehighvalley.org/news-and-events/assessment-report-lehigh-valley-local-food-economy.html

According to the report, the local food economy also presents an opportunity to improve access to affordable, nutritious fruits and vegetables in those Lehigh Valley neighborhoods that are experiencing limited access to fresh food.

The biggest challenge facing the Lehigh Valley local food economy is the loss of farmland: Since 1930, the Valley has lost 80 percent of its farms and 53 percent of its farmland.  The expected arrival of 146,000 more people in the Lehigh Valley over the next twenty years will place yet more development pressure on this remaining farmland, and the Planning Commission predicts that ten of the Valley’s 17 rural municipalities will become suburban by the year 2040. Infrastructure critical to moving food from our local farms to wholesale buyers is also lacking in the Lehigh Valley.

“The Lehigh Valley local food economy generates $17 million in economic activity for the Lehigh Valley annually. The impact of this sector goes beyond economics and enhances the quality of place that makes the Valley an attractive place to live.” Holly Edinger, LVEDC, director of the Envision Lehigh Valley Study.

Several public meetings about the Assessment Report are planned as part of the Envision Lehigh Valley initiative managed by the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation. Residents are invited to attend and discuss strategies for policy, system, and individual changes that will lead to a stronger local food economy and ensure the availability of fresh, healthy, affordable, culturally appropriate food for all residents of the Lehigh Valley, now and in the future. Public input from these Food Forums will be used to create a Fresh Food Action Plan, which will be used to inform the Sustainability Plan.

A free reception featuring locally grown foods will follow each forum.

For more information about the forums, contact Holly Edinger as listed above.  For more information about the Assessment Report, contact Lynn Prior, Director, BFBL-GLV at 610-703-6954 or [email protected].

Food Forums:

November 13, 6:30 p.m.

Broughal Middle School

114 W. Morton St.

Bethlehem, PA

 

November 14, 6:30 p.m.

Nurture Nature Center

518 Northampton St.

Easton, PA

Individuals who plan to attend this forum are asked to RSVP to the Nurture Nature Center at (610) 253-4432.

 

November 14, 6 p.m.

Lehigh County Local Government Ctr.

17 S. 7th St.

Allentown, PA

 

November 18, 7 p.m.

Emmaus Public Library

11 E. Main Street, Emmaus, PA

 

November 18, 8p.m.

Online Virtual Town Hall Meeting

www.EnvisionLehighValley.com

 

November 19, 7 p.m.

Pen Argyl High School

501 W. Laurel Ave.

Pen Argyl, PA

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