Cenla Group Aims to Make Local Foods Accessible - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

Cenla Group Aims to Make Local Foods Accessible

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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB News Channel 5)- Have you ever wished that you could simply walk down the street or take a short drive to your nearest grocery store to pick up fresh, local produce? News Channel 5's Rachael Penton spoke with one group that wants to make that possible.

Fruits, vegetables, pecans...you name it. The Local Foods Regional Working Group has a plan to change the way Central Louisiana eats.

"It's all about having access to fresh produce. If you don't have that access it's not easy. you're going to eat less of it and that's how it is. If it wasn't as easy to eat candy bars and buy candy bars we would eat less of them," says John Cotton Dean, the Regional Food Systems Planner.

"The group's mission is two-fold. they want to bring local, healthy food to Central Louisiana and they want to boost the local economy while doing it."

The group is made up of people from across Cenla that have been pitching new ideas to their communities on how to make local food, grown by local people, readily available.

"I want to see every gas station, every convenience store, every grocery store in Central Louisiana selling produce, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, nuts that are grown in Central Louisiana and I want every single person to be able to walk or occasionally have to drive a little far, but not as far as they have to today to get fresh produce," says Dean.

People like Amanda White from Grant Parish, who recently helped start a farmers market in Colfax.

"This is something that folks have been waiting for and begging for. if you wanted a market you would have had to leave the parish to find one, so folks are excited about it," says White.

Their goal is to help feed Cenla healthy and delicious foods and to feed the economy by putting money in the pockets of local food producers.

"If every single person in Central Louisiana spent five dollars a week, just five dollars a week on locally grown produce, farmers would have an extra 91 million dollars here in Central Louisiana. So it's healthy food, and it's a healthy economy," adds White.

The project is funded by a Grant from the Rapides Foundation and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation.

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