Awesome Food is excited to announce that its ninth micro-grant of $1,000 has been awarded to John Burns, the CEO and Founder of Jack & Jake’s Local Market in New Orleans. This is the first Awesome Food grant awarded in Louisiana.

Jack and Jake’s, voted one of the 25 best things happening in New Orleans by Good Magazine, is building a new local food system in the New Orleans area to reconnect local farmers and fishers with those who need access to fresh healthy foods most. Since Hurricane Katrina, the city has recovered over 70% of its residents, yet has lost more than 50% of its grocery stores.  This has created a situation where residents, many of whom are diabetic and qualify as obese, have little access to fresh and healthy foods.

The funding from Awesome Food will be provided to Jack and Jake’s to administer on behalf of the New Orleans Food & Farm Network (NOFFN), the non-profit organization in New Orleans best able to train and coordinate urban community and market growers. Jack & Jake’s and NOFFN will partner to help provide local growers with information and distribution channels that allow them to better access markets that buy fresh foods.

Jack & Jake’s Local Market Building

“New Orleans has always been known as a city of food and music and we attract foodies from all over the world who want a taste of what south Louisiana has to offer,” Burns said. “Unfortunately, for many of us who live here, fresh healthy foods have been hard to come by since Hurricane Katrina.  We have been labeled as the number one Food Desert City in America. For someone who was born and raised here when fresh foods were abundant and economically available to everyone – it’s a hard reality to accept.”

Burns went on, “With this opportunity, we can help make local healthy food in our city accessible and affordable once again!  With national recognition and support from Awesome Food, we believe that Jack & Jake’s and the NOFFN can assist a growing number of urban growers to engage in the local food economy. The support of Awesome Food will help us to engage the community that desire an improved food-based economy in our region.”

Awesome Food trustee Micki Maynard met with Burns during a trip to New Orleans this spring. “The potential for local growers in New Orleans is enormous, but the city lacks the infrastructure to connect growers and users,” she said. “Far more can be done to make sure restaurants, groceries and home cooks are able to have access to locally grown products. Our grant to Jack and Jake’s is a small first step in establishing a network to help make that happen.”

Jack & Jake’s Outdoor Market Space

For more about Jack and Jake’s, visit www.jackandjakes.com. You can also learn about the New Orleans Farm and Food Network at http://www.noffn.org.

Photos courtesy of John Burns.