Miami-Dade Health Squanders $15 Million From Feds Meant to Bring Farmers' Markets to Town

Categories: Politicks
Michelle_Obama_breaks_ground_on_White_House_Kitchen_Garden_3-20-09_1.jpg
The First Lady has made healthy eating her priority, but her husband's stimulus package hasn't helped as much as hoped

​Remember President Obama's stimulus package? The $787 billion bill was supposed to goose this country's ailing economy like a line of premium yeyo. Here in Miami, it was also booked to save us from our slovenly, speed-eating selves. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave the Miami-Dade County Health Department nearly $15 million for healthy-living programs. Neighborhoods such as Overtown and Liberty City -- where McDonald's locations easily outnumber produce vendors -- desperately needed the help.

But three years later, those lofty plans have fallen prey to red tape. All the money must be spent by next month, yet half a dozen organizations have only begun to receive funds.

"It's been a huge pain in the ass," says Ian Wogan, whose company, Garden of Ian, was awarded a grant to improve two community gardens in Little Haiti but struggled for months to get the cash.

What happened? Well, it took a full year for Miami-Dade County Health Department (a state agency) to even receive the $14.7 million. Then the organization began soliciting bids. It didn't start doling out cash until June 2010, giving $12 million to 20 groups.

But those that received money included many programs that had little to do with putting vegetables in the hood. Miami-Dade County Public Schools, for instance, took $3 million for "healthier" vending machines and education sessions; the Miami Police Department bizarrely snagged $300,000 to train crossing guards; and more than $3 million went to ad firms to promote the CDC's plans.

Farm initiatives such as Wogan's group -- ones that would actually put farmers' produce on the table -- got the leftovers: $500,566 to boost markets and gardens in Miami's inner-city "food deserts."

Even worse, that money came too late. Some groups say they began received money only a few weeks ago. Unless the DOH gets an extension, any unspent funds will be sent back to the CDC March 18.

"The whole idea was to use this money to enhance these gardens," Wogan laments, "but the season is pretty much gone now."

Below is a spreadsheet of the Miami-Dade County Health Department distributed more than $12 million in stimulus funds. The organization itself used roughly $2 million to administer the money.

Recipient informationMiami-Dade County DOH grant recipients

Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes. Follow this journalist on Twitter @MikeMillerMiami.


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11 comments
Kava Kava
Kava Kava

I totally agree that bringing the products to town would be best.

Doña Kity
Doña Kity

I don't understand why don't you highlight the positive outcomes of this initiative, for example that there are new farmers market open in Miami's intercity where there was NO access to fresh, locally grown food at affordable prices?? or that most or mayble all of these farmers market offer up to $10 matching any time you use your EBT or Food Stamps?  or the health fairs or the cooking demos offer to the costumers?. This article leads the reader to believe that nothing has been done and that isn't true. I invite all of you to visit all the organizations website and farmers market and then judge!!!

Disappointed
Disappointed

Disappointing to see a report with so much missing information and facts. 

KC3000
KC3000

Please name names. Who heads the department?  Let's get a bureaucrat fired!!!

Jaazbochin
Jaazbochin

Hell of a simile "like a line of premium yeyo"... someone drug test this writer.

Chewbacca in 'da house...
Chewbacca in 'da house...

The so-called stimulus from Obama was a huge ripoff to the American taxpayers, the current administration greased the hands of the unions, etc with nothing really going to the taxpayers themselves...Keep Mooshelle away from the ribs, fries and malted shakes, that's what she really eats... Vegetables, with her ass...? No way, LMAO...!!

Hire a fact checker
Hire a fact checker

Correct your story - Miami-Dade implies that the County got the funds.  It did not.

The Department of Health is a State agency and receives no budget support from the County.  There's plenty to blame the County for but this ain't one.

Michael Miller
Michael Miller

You're right. We have fixed the title, which was a bit misleading. Thanks for pointing that out.

cljahn
cljahn

That title still looks like it's the county's fault; how about "State Agency" instead of "Miami -Dade Health"?

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