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Minneapolis– In a speech before the U.S. Conference of Mayors, first lady Michelle Obama cited Minneapolis mini farmers markets in underserved communities as an example of new local initiatives to combat obesity and connect children with healthier foods. The first lady announced that next month she will be launching a major initiative on childhood obesity that combines federal government resources with local partners around the country.

The Minneapolis mini farmers market project was launched by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) and the city of Minneapolis in 2005. The city passed an ordinance that simplified the process of starting small-scale farmers markets. This has enabled organizations ranging from community centers to public housing facilities to start new markets. The project brings together local farmers and community residents in Minneapolis neighborhoods that lack easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Last year, there were 12 mini farmers markets operating around the city.

Under the leadership of Mayor R. T. Rybak, the city of Minneapolis has also launched the new Homegrown Minneapolis initiative, aimed at increasing the production and consumption of healthy local foods in Minneapolis. The initiative is a unique partnership between city government and community stakeholders.

“The first lady is bringing greater attention to remarkable efforts around the country that expand access to healthy food,” said IATP’s JoAnne Berkenkamp. “Minneapolis is becoming recognized as a leader in finding new ways to make healthier food more accessible—whether it is through farmers markets, urban agriculture or corner stores that are expanding their offerings of fresh fruits and vegetables. We applaud Mrs. Obama’s commitment to improving the health of our nation’s children.”

You can read first lady Michelle Obama’s speech here:

Find out more about IATP’s Local Foods program at: