Across the country state and local city governments are enacting legislation and policies similar to the federal Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) to support healthy food retail projects, revitalize communities and improve access to healthy food in low-income underserved communities. These programs are improving health and revitalizing communities by creating jobs and serving as anchors to other commercial development, which increases retail activity, employment rates, and property values in the surrounding neighborhoods.
Search this list of states to find policy initiatives implemented or in the process of being implemented either at the state or city level.
Find a list of the Healthy Food Financing Programs across the country here.
California FreshWorks Fund
In July 2011, California launched a new model for financing healthy food access, with leadership from philanthropy. The California Endowment and partners developed the California FreshWorks Fund (CAFWF), a public-private partnership loan fund created to increase access to healthy foods in underserved communities, spur economic development that supports healthy communities, and inspire innovation in healthy food retailing. CAFWF finances grocery stores and other forms of healthy food retail and distribution by providing a combination of loan and grant financing to eligible applicants. In it's first iteration, CAFWF raised more than $273 million and was administered by Capital Impact Partners. Currently, the Northern California Community Loan Fund is serving as the lead administrator of the program, in partnership with a diverse range of investors, advisers, and partners - view the full list here. For more information and to apply for funding please go to California FreshWorks.
California Healthy Food Financing Initiative
In 2011, Governor Brown signed AB 581, the California Healthy Food Financing Initiative (CHFFI) into law. AB 581, introduced by Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, finds that “access to healthy food items is a basic human right.” The bill will create the CHFFI in the State Treasury, to comprise federal, state, philanthropic, and private funds, for the purpose of expanding access to healthy foods in underserved communities and, to the extent practicable, to leverage other funding, as specified. Moneys in the fund would be expended upon appropriation by the legislature. A CHFFI Council will be created to develop financing options; define program parameters; and partner with government, nonprofit, and philanthropic agencies to advance the key goal of improving access to healthy food in underserved communities. See details of AB 581 for more information.
Policy Efforts to Watch: San Francisco Healthy Food Retailer Incentives Program
In September 2012, Supervisor Eric Mar introduced legislation to establish a Healthy Food Retailer Incentives Program, to be administered by the San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development. The proposal takes aim at a long-standing challenge in San Francisco to ensure there are an adequate number of grocery stores, especially in low-income neighborhoods. The legislation focuses attention on promoting and assisting stores that meet the criteria of being a “healthy food retailer.” The criteria include that at least 35 percent of the selling area contain fresh produce and no more than 20 percent of the area have tobacco or alcohol for sale. The program would analyze what areas are most in need of healthier food choices and figure out how to attract purveyors to those areas. The proposal calls for the creation of a “one-stop-shop” by July 1, 2013 for anyone looking to become a healthy food retailer. And, by fiscal year 2013–14, the proposal calls for at least one full-time city worker heading the program.
Colorado Launches its Fresh Food Financing Fund
Seeded with a $7.1 million investment from the Colorado Health Foundation, the Colorado Fresh Food Financing Fund (CO4F) will enable food retailers to provide fresh, healthy food in underserved Colorado communities. A public-private partnership fund, CO4F will make financing available for grocers that offer affordable and nutritious foods in areas where such goods are scarce.
Modeled after successful, national programs and aligned with the federal Healthy Food Financing Initiative, CO4F is designed to:
The statewide fund is the first of its kind in Colorado and was developed in response to recommendations from the Denver Food Access Task Force. CO4F aims to remove financial barriers from the construction, expansion, and renovation of grocery stores in underserved areas. For more information go to Colorado Fresh Food Financing Fund.
Colorado Enterprise Fund
The Colorado Enterprise Fund (CEF) is a partner in The Colorado Fresh Food Financing Fund (CO4F) and is using its HFFI grant to finance food production, small grocery retail, and innovative healthy food businesses, including farmers markets, bodegas, food carts, and produce stands. Expert small business lenders, CEF provides loans for equipment purchases, energy efficiency improvements, and leasehold improvements. CEF lends to all segments of the food system to foster healthy food access and economic development. You can find more information about the CEF here.
Source of money: HFFI CED Program
Advisory Commission on Food Policy, City of Hartford
The City of Hartford’s Advisory Commission on Food Policy is charged with integrating all city agencies in a common effort to improve the availability of safe and nutritious food at reasonable prices for residents. Established in 1991, the Commission is guided by four goals: 1) Eliminate hunger as an obstacle to a happy, healthy, and productive life in the city. 2) Ensure that a wide variety of safe and nutritious food is available for city residents. 3) Ensure that access to food is not limited by economic status, location, or other factors beyond a resident’s control. 4) Ensure that the price of food in the city remains at a level approximating the level for the state.
In March of 2013, the Commission released recommendations for increased food security in Hartford. Of the nine recommendations, three focused specifically on healthy food access. The Commission proposed exploring and implementing tax incentives and economic benefits for healthy food businesses. In response to survey findings on the availability, pricing, and quality of fruits and vegetables, the Commission advised that the city help improve the business infrastructure and sales of these markets to support the local economy. Lastly, they suggested increased support for the development of a Hartford Food Hub. Read more about the recommendations here.
Healthy Food Retailer Incentive
In 2006, Hartford Food System (HFS) launched the Healthy Food Retailer Initiative program. HFS partners with corner stores to increase the availability of healthy food in the city. HFS works with stores to discuss, identify, and document best practices for healthy food retailing, including elements such as marketing, licensing, access to storage and display equipment, and purchasing cooperatives. They also help store owners comply with the WIC program and municipal food licensing requirements. Within a year of the launch, HFS measured an 8% shift in the percentage of healthy food offerings across 23 stores. Learn more about the Healthy Food Retailer Incentive here.
FEED DC Act
The District of Columbia passed the Food, Environment, and Economic Development in the District of Columbia Act of 2010 to incentivize grocery store development in the District. The “FEED” DC Act builds on the district’s existing Supermarket Tax Exemption Act of 2000 to create a package of incentives and assistance for new grocery store developments and for grocery store renovations in lower-income parts of the city. Specifically, the act (1) sets up a structure for grants and loans to eligible grocery store projects (both new developments and renovations to existing stores), awarded on a competitive basis; (2) designates a “Grocery Ambassador” in the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development to help grocers navigate through the bureaucratic hurdles of opening new stores; (3) allows for density bonuses and other zoning flexibility for eligible grocery store developments; (4) creates a fast-track permitting and review process for eligible grocery store developments; and (5) directs the DC Department of the Environment to develop and promote energy-efficiency resources to help grocers lower their operating costs. For more information, see the FEED DC Act.
DC Healthy Food Retail Program
Additionally, the FEED DC Act creates, in the DC Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD), a Healthy Food Retail Program, which will provide assistance for small retailers seeking to sell healthy foods in underserved communities. Small retailers can include existing corner stores seeking to sell fresh produce and healthy foods; farmers’ markets; and other small retailers, such as fruit and vegetable vendors. The program was funded at $300,000 for fiscal year 2011. These funds are helping corner stores, farmers’ markets, and other small food retailers sell healthy foods in underserved, low-income areas, as directed by the FEED DC Act. DSLBD also will work with a variety of local stakeholders to create a plan for a commercial fruit and vegetable distribution system for corner stores and other small retailers. For more information, see the DC Healthy Food Retail Program.
Policy Efforts to Watch: Georgia Supermarket Access Task Force
The Georgia Supermarket Access Task Force, convened by The Food Trust, the Georgia Family Connection Partnership, and the Georgia Food Industry Association, met over the course of a year to develop policy recommendations to support supermarkets and other fresh food retail in underserved areas of the state. Visit here to view the report.
Changes to SNAP Distribution
In September 2012, cooperative efforts between the Georgia Department of Human Services, Georgia Food Industry Association, and Georgia Supermarket Access Task Force members, led to the overhaul of the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) distribution schedule from a 10-day to a 19-day cycle. Historically, the State of Georgia dispersed SNAP, or food stamp, benefits during a 10-day cycle each month. As a result, stores located in areas where a high concentration of SNAP beneficiaries shop experienced a surge of business during that 10-day period, and a significant decline in business during the other days of the month. This imbalance produced a myriad of consequences, including overcrowding and slow periods, difficulty in staffing, and challenges to stocking fresh produce throughout the month. These complications made some retailers hesitant to operate in communities with heavy SNAP participation. The change to the cycle benefits not only SNAP participants, providing a better shopping experience and increased access to fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the month, but also grocers, wholesalers, and suppliers tied to Georgia’s food system.
Illinois Fresh Food Fund
In 2007 the Illinois Food Marketing Task Force, convened by Voices for Illinois Children, the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, the Illinois Food Retailers Association, and The Food Trust, met to develop recommendations to overcome the barriers to supermarket and other fresh food retail access that plagues many communities throughout the state. This effort gave way to the Illinois Fresh Food Fund, a statewide grocery financing program designed to increase access to healthy foods in underserved communities in Illinois. This new program was one of the 10 policy recommendations put forth by the Task Force.
Governor Pat Quinn announced the launch of the new fund in 2012. The state is working with IFF, a community development financial institution (CDFI), to administer the program and provide initial funding for the initiative in the form of a $10-million grant. An additional $3 million in funding has been secured by IFF through the national Healthy Food Financing Initiative.
In addition to healthy food retail, the program supports community engagement programs, including efforts to improve nutrition education. The program is modeled after the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative, the New York Healthy Food and Healthy Communities Fund, and similar programs across the country. This new program will bring more grocery stores that sell fresh produce to underserved communities across Illinois, which improves health and wellness while also stimulating local economies and creating jobs. For more information, go to the Illinois Fresh Food Fund.
Policy Efforts to Watch: Kansas City Grocery Access Task Force
Co-chaired by KC Healthy Kids and IFF, a community development financial institution, and facilitated by The Food Trust, the Kansas City Grocery Access Task Force met in 2013 to develop practical solutions to support food access in the metropolitan area. The task force was composed of representatives from the grocery industry as well as from the civic, financial, and public-health sectors. The group met over the course of the year and developed nine policy recommendations to improve food access in bi-state Kansas City. Recommendations include the need for local governments to invest in existing financing programs and create new incentives for healthy food retail development.
Local Leaders Discuss Need for HFFI In Their Community
Gerry Roll, Executive Director of Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky, spoke with Kentucky News Network and WMKY in Kentucky to discuss how the federal Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) can improve healthy food access in local communities. HFFI assists communities to secure critical loan and grant financing to operate healthy food retail such as grocery stores in low-income communities or communities of color that often lack healthy food access. Listen to the interview here.
New Orleans Fresh Food Retailer Initiative
Storm damage and flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 forced many New Orleans healthy food retailers to close their doors – further exacerbating resident’s struggles to access healthy food. Six-years after Hurricane Katrina, the City of New Orleans launched the Fresh Food Retailer Initiative (FFRI) to increase healthy food access in underserved areas. This program provides direct financial assistance to retail businesses by awarding forgivable and/or low-interest loans to supermarkets and other fresh food retailers. The City has partnered with The Food Trust and HOPE Enterprise Corporation (HOPE), a community-development financial institution and Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) grantee, to implement the program. The program was seeded with $7 million of federal Disaster Community Development Block Grant funds that have already leveraged millions in additional public and private funding for grocery projects.
As of early 2015, FFRI helped to finance three large-scale projects that will have a significant impact on New Orleans in terms of fresh food access, job creation, and community revitalization: Circle Food Store, ReFresh/Whole Foods, and Jack and Jake’s, scheduled to open in the Fall 2015.
Background and Advocacy
In 2007, healthy food stakeholders presented information to the New Orleans City Council about how limited access plagued communities post-Katrina. The Council voted unanimously to convene the New Orleans Food Policy Advisory Committee to directly address this issue and generate a list of recommendations to improve access to healthy food in the city. The multi-sector group met over the course of a year and developed recommendations to support grocery stores in underserved areas throughout the city.
In response to the recommendations of the Food Policy Advisory Committee, the City of New Orleans prioritized healthy food retailing in the strategic rebuilding of the city, setting the stage for the creation of the Fresh Food Retailer Initiative (FFRI).
For more background, read the full list of Food Policy Advisory Committee recommendations that led to the creation of the FFRI program: Building Healthy Communities: Expanding Access to Fresh Food Retail.
For more information on how to advocate for and create a state or local healthy food financing Initiative: The Healthy Food Financing Handbook: From Advocacy to Implementation.
Policy Efforts to Watch: Louisiana Healthy Food Retail Act
Concurrent with the implementation of the FFRI, statewide advocacy efforts were also underway which culminated in Governor Bobby Jindal signing the Healthy Food Retail Act into law on August 15, 2009. The legislation created the structure for a financing program that would provide grants and loans to supermarkets, farmers' markets and food retail providers to improve access to fresh fruits and vegetables in underserved communities across the state of Louisiana; however no funding has been appropriated for the program.
Advocates of the Healthy Food Retail Act, including Together Louisiana, Market Umbrella, Tulane University’s Prevention Research Center and The Food Trust, among others, have been working together to get funding allocated for the program.
Policy Efforts to Watch: Massachusetts Food Trust Program
For more information on how to advocate for and create a state or local healthy food financing Initiative: The Healthy Food Financing Handbook: From Advocacy to Implementation.
Policy Efforts to Watch: Mobile Grocery Stores
Several entrepreneurs and nonprofits interested in expanding healthy food options have passed a proposal through the city's regulatory committee that will allow mobile grocery stores. The Twin Cities Mobile Market, a new program of the Wilder Foudation, intends to serve low-income areas that have been designated as food deserts. Learn more about this exciting development here.
Minnesota Grocery Access Task Force
The Minnesota Grocery Access Task Force, convened by the Greater Twin Cities United Way, the Minnesota Grocers Association, and The Food Trust, presented policy recommendations to support supermarkets and other fresh food retail in underserved neighborhoods at its final meeting in September 2012.
In 2012 the Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi, the National Grocers Association, and The Food Trust convened the Mississippi Grocery Access Task Force, comprising local community, economic, and public health leaders. The group addressed how residents in underserved communities can better access healthy food and generated policy recommendations to support supermarkets and other fresh food retail across the state.
On the heels of the work of the Grocery Access Task Force, the Mississippi House of Representatives introduced MS HB 798, the Healthy Food Retail Act, to create a grant and loan program to increase access to fresh and healthy food in underserved communities. The act passed in the House by a wide margin (114-4) and was approved by the Senate (52-0). Although the legislature adjourned before the bill was completed, there was incredible bipartisan support, signifying a growing interest and commitment to economic development in communities underserved by grocery stores and other healthy food retail, along with the creation of expanded opportunities for American farmers.
Policy Efforts to Watch: Kansas City Grocery Access Task Force
Facilitated by The Food Trust and co-chaired by KC Healthy Kids and IFF, a community development financial institution, the Kansas City Grocery Access Task Force met in 2013 to develop practical solutions to support food access in the metropolitan area. The task force was composed of representatives from the grocery industry as well as from the civic, financial, and public-health sectors. The group met over the course of the year and developed nine policy recommendations to improve food access in bi-state Kansas City. Recommendations include the need for local governments to invest in existing financing programs and create new incentives for healthy food retail development.
Policy Efforts to Watch: Nebraska Healthy Food Financing Initiative Act
In the 2012 session of the Nebraska Legislature, Nebraska State Senator Brenda Council introduced the Nebraska Healthy Food Financing Initiative Act, which would set aside $300,000 in the state budget for small loans, grants, and interest rate assistance on loans made through other financial institutions. The bill would provide funding to establish new farmers’ markets and community gardens, develop cooperative grocery stores, establish new grocery stores, and refurbish existing grocery stores to better meet the needs of the community in terms of providing fresh, healthy food. While the Agriculture Committee held a hearing on the bill and the legislation was supported by farmers and public health groups alike, the bill did not make it to the governor’s desk for signature.
Policy Efforts to Watch: City of Reno works with Washoe County Food Policy
The City of Reno recently announced a plan to study healthy food access policy for 2014. The new goal will guide the city's Planning Comission efforts to research and identify planning and development policies that can promote healthy food access and support local food production and sales. Interest in local, healthy food is fueling economic growth in the Reno area, and the Great Basin Community Food Co-op is one of the fastest growing co-ops in the country. Check out this article for additional information.
Las Vegas Healthy Food Access Policy
In an effort to combat obesity in their city, the Las Vegas City Council has passed a resolution that will increase access to healthy food options in underserved areas. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 34 percent of Las Vegas children and 60 percent of adults are obese or overweight. Through this resolution the city hopes to improve the quality of life and health benefits for residents as well encourage economic development within the community.
The City Council adopted the Food Access Policy and Planning Guide which presents key objectives for improving access to affordable and nutritious food. Future plans include the following:
Read the resolution, guide, and other supporting materials here.
In 2010, the New Jersey Food Council and the New Jersey Economic Development Agency, in conjunction with The Food Trust, convened the New Jersey Food Marketing Task Force. The task force developed a series of recommendations to support supermarkets and other fresh food retail in underserved areas across the state.
In 2009, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) collaborated with The Reinvestment Fund to launch the New Jersey Food Access Initiative (NJFAI), a statewide financing program to improve access to healthy foods. NJFAI makes grants and loans available to support supermarket developers and operators, food hubs, and other formats of fresh food retail that will increase access to fresh, healthy foods in underserved areas across the state, with emphasis on serving the following ten cities: Atlantic City, Camden, East Orange, Elizabeth, Jersey City, Newark, New Brunswick, Paterson, Trenton, and Vineland.
Responding to the task force recommendations, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) contributed a $10 million Program Related Investment (PRI) and a $2 million grant to NJFAI in 2012. This investment compliments the work of community coalitions funded by RWJF to combat childhood obesity as part of the New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids (NJPHK). NJFAI's other financial partners include Living Cities ($2 million), NJEDA ($4 million), and The Reinvestment Fund ($2 million).
See the New Jersey Food Access Initiative for more information.
New York Healthy Food & Healthy Communities Fund
In 2006, New York City public officials, including Mayor Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, began a concerted effort to improve access to healthy foods in neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs. This investigation highlighted the need for statewide intervention and the creation of task force, funded by the Friedman Foundation and convened by New York City’s Food Policy Coordinator, the Food Bank of New York City, the New York City Council, the Food Industry Alliance of New York, and The Food Trust, to address the barriers to supermarket and other fresh food retail development in underserved communities across New York State. As a result, the New York Supermarket Commission created a set of policy recommendations to incentivize healthy food retail investment in these areas, including the recommendation that a statewide grocery financing program be created. In response to the recommendations of the New York Supermarket Commission, Governor Paterson launched the New York Healthy Food & Healthy Communities (HFHC) Fund in 2010, a $30-million business financing program to encourage supermarket and other fresh food retail investment in underserved areas throughout the state.
The program provides grants and loans made available through a revolving loan fund to eligible projects. The initiative includes a $10-million commitment from the state’s Empire State Development Corporation and a $20-million commitment from The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. The Low Income Investment Fund is the lead administrator for the fund and is partnering with The Reinvestment Fund and The Food Trust to implement the program.
The New York Healthy Food & Healthy Communities (HFHC) Fund has thus far provided $6.24 million ($4.86 million in loans and $1.38 million in grants) to eight healthy food retail projects (6 traditional grocery stores, 1 mobile market, and 1 regional farmers market) aimed at improving access to nutritious food for approximately 24,000 people in underserved communities in New York State. The eight projects receiving HFHC funding so far are spread across New York towns and cities, including Mount Vernon, Highland Falls, Conklin, Buffalo, Red Creek, Binghamton, and in the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Staten Island, which also received tax incentives through the FRESH (Food Retail Expansion to Support Health) Program. The Fund’s investments have so far supported 67,500 square feet of new, improved, or preserved food retail space and created or preserved more than 200 full-time jobs and over 100 construction jobs.
The Low Income Investment Fund is actively underwriting several projects and continuing to accept applications for projects across New York State. For more information on the program go to the New York Healthy Food & Healthy Communities Fund.
New York City FRESH Program
In New York City, the Bloomberg administration acted on the New York Supermarket Commission's recommendations by creating the FRESH Program (Food Retail Expansion to Support Health) to encourage healthy food retail development in underserved areas throughout the city. Launched in summer 2010, the FRESH Program (1) provides tax incentives to healthy food retailers, (2) creates incentives in the zoning code for real estate developments that incorporate healthy food, and (3) creates a single point of access for supermarket operators to interface with city government. Click here to learn more about the FRESH Program.
In 2014, the Ohio Regional Convergence Partnership and Finance Fund, in partnership with The Food Trust, conducted a statewide research study to identify communities in Ohio that lack access to healthy food options. Study findings translated into a mapping report, Food for Every Child: The Need for Healthy Food Financing in Ohio, which revealed that over two million Ohioans, including 500,000 children, live in lower-income communities underserved by supermarkets.
Finance Fund also participates in Reinvestment Fund’s ReFresh Initiative, a national network of CDFI practitioners engaged in improving access to healthy food across the United States, particularly in areas where long-standing barriers exist that make it difficult for residents to live healthier, more stable lives.
Recently, Finance Fund was awarded $2 million in funding through the FY2015 CDFI-HFFI program, enabling their CDFI affiliate, Finance Fund Capital Corporation (FCAP), to expand its healthy food-focused financing activities to help meet the unique needs of healthy food projects operating in economically underserved communities. Finance Fund was also awarded $4 million in round six through the Ohio New Markets Tax Credit (ONMTC) Program administered by the Ohio Development Services Agency, amounting to $14 million in ONMTC. Find out more about Finance Fund's work in Ohio here.
The American Heart Association in Ohio has prioritized Healthy Food Financing as a key part of their policy agenda. For more information on the American Heart Association efforts see here.
Cincinnati Fresh Food Retail Financing Fund
The Cincinnati Fresh Food Retail Financing Fund (FFRFF), ), established in late 2012, supports supermarkets, grocery stores, and other fresh food markets in low-income, underserved communities in the Cincinnati area. The Cincinnati City Council voted in December of 2012 to approve the city manager's budget recommendation for Focus 52, a program under the Neighborhoods in the Economic Development Director's Budget, formally creating the Cincinnati FFRFF. The program allows city funds to be used to support qualifying grocery projects in underserved areas. The Center for Closing the Health Gap and the Cincinnati Development Fund will work to support qualifying grocery projects in underserved neighborhoods of the city. Click here to download the Program Guidelines. To find out if you are eligible for the fund, download the application.
The Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative
The Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative (FFFI), launched in 2004, was a public-private partnership among the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Reinvestment Fund, The Food Trust, and Urban Affairs Coalition. Through the leadership of State Representative Dwight Evans, Pennsylvania invested $30 million in seed funding for the program, leading to total project costs of $190 million. FFFI approved financing for 88 projects accounting for more than $85 million in grants and loans for eligible healthy food retail businesses in underserved urban and rural communities. FFFI created or saved more than 5,000 jobs and 1.67 million square feet of commercial food retail space. FFFI ended in June 2010 when all of the state funds were deployed.
Learn more about FFFI in this four part video series:
Healthy Food Retail in Pennsylvania Today
Although the FFFI funding was expended, Reinvestment Fund continues to manage a healthy food retail revolving loan fund for Pennsylvania businesses using its own investor capital, a federal Healthy Food Financing Initiative grant from the CDFI Fund New Markets Tax Credit, and the proceeds from loans repaid by FFFI borrowers.
Reinvestment Fund's 2014 Limited Supermarket Access Study, which analyzes access to healthy foods in communities across the nation, estimated that 301,397 Philadelphia residents were living in communities with low access to healthy foods in 2005. By 2013, the number was more than halved because of FFFI and other concerted efforts. Today, 187,000 Philadelphia residents' nearest option for obtaining fresh foods is at a grocer financed by Reinvestment Fund. In all, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania experienced a 38 percent net increase in grocery stores between 2005 and 2013.
The Pennsylvania initiative continues to draw national attention for its success in improving access to fresh foods, job creation, and economic revitalization in underserved communities statewide. The program has been recognized by Harvard University, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Governors Association, and the National Conference of State Legislatures as a model for communities nationwide committed to combating obesity and improving food access. For more information on the program, go to Reinvestment Fund's Healthy Food Retail webpage.
Background and Advocacy
Policy Efforts to Watch: Tennessee Grocery Access Task Force
The Tennessee Grocery Access Task Force, convened by the Tennessee Grocery and Convenience Association (TGCA), the American Heart Association (AHA), and The Food Trust, met over the course of a year to develop policy recommendations to support supermarkets and other fresh food retail in underserved communities across the state.
Changes to SNAP Distribution Schedules
In addition to the task force efforts, cooperative efforts between key stakeholders in Tennessee have led to the overhaul of the state’s SNAP distribution schedule. In late October 2012, the state’s SNAP distribution schedule was extended from a 10-day cycle to a 20-day cycle, thereby improving the effectiveness of the program. This new distribution schedule for SNAP benefits in Tennessee helps ensure that fresh foods are available throughout the month and that grocery stores can properly serve consumers in areas of high food-stamp volume. This change will also benefit grocers, wholesalers, and suppliers tied to Tennessee’s local food system. This improvement to the distribution schedule is a good indication of the State of Tennessee’s commitment to implementing changes to improve access to healthy foods in local communities.
Policy Efforts to Watch: Houston Grocery Access Task Force
In 2012 the Houston Grocery Access Task Force, convened by Children at Risk, the City of Houston, and The Food Trust, developed a roadmap to improve grocery access in Houston and Texas. The group’s recommendations included creating attractive financing opportunities for grocers opening or expanding stores in areas of need throughout the city.
In response to the work of the task force, the City of Houston has dedicated financial resources to incentivize healthy food retail development or expansion in target neighborhoods currently underserved by grocery stores. The Houston Redevelopment Authority, using Community Development Grant Funds, will award and determine financing for projects on a case-by-case basis.
Virginia Fresh Food Loan Program
Virginia Community Capital (VCC), a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and community development bank in Richmond, Virginia, is working to launch the Virginia Fresh Food Loan Fund (VFFLF). VFFLF will address the unmet capital needs of healthy food enterprises in Virginia's rural and urban areas. The commitment to form the VFFLF is a scale up and expansion of VCC's 2012 healthy corner store pilot program, “Get Fresh East End,” which encourages corner stores to provide healthy food options to the residents in Richmond's East End neighborhood: the largest underserved community for a city its size in the United States. Over the next three years, VCC will replicate this corner store initiative in two additional urban underserved communities in Virginia. This expansion includes increasing the number of corner stores and urban areas included in the program, deepening engagement with participating stores by increasing store capacity to sell and market healthy items through financial incentives and providing refrigeration and other necessary infrastructure to support the inventory and marketing of healthy food items.
VCC plans to develop an $11 million dollar fund from a variety of sources, including through program and mission-related investments from foundation partners and from their own loan fund. The VFFLF combines small business technical assistance as well as lending opportunities to increase the capacity of urban corner stores to sell and market healthy items and foster the expansion and formation of food hubs, and other small and medium-sized food enterprises. This commitment will significantly increase healthy food sales in participating corner stores and is anticipated to create an average of 12 jobs per food hub. VCC was recently recognized by the Clinton Global Initiative America for their commitment to launching the VFFLF.
For more information, see the Virginia Fresh Food Loan Program.