The Elgin Local Food Center (ELF) is an exciting project to build a commercial kitchen and healthy food education center in downtown Elgin! The ELF will serve people living in the areas east of Austin in the counties of Bastrop, Travis, Lee, Williamson and Caldwell. ELF services will be so useful that even folks from farther away will come to the ELF!
We are raising money now to build the ELF and any new member of the Texas Center for Local Food in 2019 will get their name on the wall. The ELF will support access to healthier food through cooking classes and our Farm-to-Kids Texas program with Elgin ISD. We'll have meet your farmer events and all kids of engaging and fun ways to learn together. The ELF will leverage Austin’s high demand for healthy local food to create jobs in the Elgin area. It will also provide healthy food education to central Texas families living on the eastern outskirts of Austin and be a local food entrepreneur development center.
In 2015, the City of Elgin received a grant from the USDA to pilot local food processing as a viable driver of our local food economy. We called the pilot the ELF: Elgin Local Food Center. The $95,000 grant, completed in 2017, paid for technical assistance to help farmers test new products, from sauerkraut to pickled zucchini. We tested 10 products, running a cost analysis on each. We also met many food entrepreneurs interested in starting their new food business in Elgin! The ELF is indeed a viable way to create quality jobs in Elgin and provide new markets for farmers in central Texas. In May 2018, the Elgin Economic Development corporation committed $800,000 in local sales tax revenue as matching fund to build the ELF. That deal expires in September 2019 and we have to raise at least another $800,000 of the remaining $1.55M by September 2019.
Bring scattered programmatic activities together for higher impact
Deepen community connections
It's a sad fact that thousands of families are fleeing the high cost of living in Austin - and many are moving east. Elgin Texas is a culturally diverse town of 9,000 located in an increasingly suburban rural area east of Austin. People living on the eastern outskirts of Austin spend 1-2 hours each day in their cars driving to jobs in Austin and many make that drive for jobs that pay $12.30/hr. The ELF will help create local jobs! The demand for local food in Austin is high and growing and we have lots of farms east of Austin. We're leveraging that demand to create jobs in local food - that includes jobs processing food, educating about food and producing food. These jobs may not pay more than $12.50, but when you have a job 15 minutes from home, that's cash in your pocket. Plus you'll have more time to spend with your family and community. How many commuters would love a little more time?
With all this time spent driving and not a lot of extra money, it's no wonder people east of Austin are less healthy than urban dwellers. Bastrop County has some the highest rates of chronic illness in our area - more people with diabetes and heart disease. Access to healthy food is a problem especially for the 40% of households with children under 5 who are living in poverty.
Children under 5 years
Austin-Round Rock MSA
The food we eat affects our performance in school, at work, with our families and in our communities. Texas facts from the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy: