Food tours look at economic engine of local industry

LEWISTOWN – Members from the Appalachian Regional Commission, along with a representative from the U.S. Department Agriculture are spending the week in central Pennsylvania visiting farms, produce markets and food related businesses.

On Monday, the group toured Bonfatto’s Spice Cream facility, located in the Mifflin County Industrial Development Corporation Plaza.

The goal of these tours is to promote regional discussion about how communities can seize the opportunities created by local foods systems.

Guy P. Land, Chief of Staff for ARC said local food industries, such as the Spice Cream facility are playing a much larger role in growing the economy.

“We want to see what works and what opportunities are available,” Land said.

For nearly 50 years, the federal ARC has provided support for economic and community development in Central Pennsylvania, funding health and education facilities, transportation activities and public infrastructure. Since the early 1980s its primary focus in the region has been Enterprise Development services carried out through SEDA-Council of Governments, services which assist private companies in their efforts to export, secure government contracts, and finance expansion or start-up projects.

Federal Co-Chair of ARC, Earl F. Gohl said local food markets are growing and becoming an economic engine that is helping to create jobs.

“If you buy local, the money stays in the community,” Gohl said.