MERRILLVILLE - Merrillville-based Legacy Foundation is the recipient of a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to help alleviate food deserts in Gary and East Chicago. The $226,119 grant from the three-year USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program will be used to add food market options for the nearly 75,000 food insecure Lake County residents.

The Feeding America study, Map the Meal Gap, found 24 food deserts in Lake County, 14 of which are in Gary. “We want to provide people with locally grown food that offers them healthy choices at an affordable cost,” said Legacy Foundation Community Development Director, Bushra Rehman. “This program not only provides access to healthy food but also address challenges like transportation which often limits people’s options.”

The program also funds mobile markets and new farmers markets for East Chicago and Gary, along with increasing the number of farmers markets able to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. Only two in Gary currently accept SNAP benefits, but the plan calls for an increase, as well as technical assistance and capacity building for all eight Lake County farmers markets. The new farmers markets and mobile markets are expected to start in the summer of 2019. A list of all recipients of Farmers Market Promotion Program funds can be found here