Glossary

Alternative Markets

any new or innovative way of increasing healthy food access outside of the traditional retail strategies (supermarket, grocery store, corner store). Alternative markets are often smaller in format and/or don’t involve a bricks-and-mortar structure to reduce the associated operating and overhead costs, examples include food hubs, mobile markets, and community supported agriculture (CSA).

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Business Improvement District

a public-private partnership in which property and business owners elect to make a collective contribution to the maintenance, development, and promotion of their commercial district.

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Co-op

a member-owned, member-controlled food retail business that often resembles a privately owned grocery store in the merchandise that they provide. Co-ops operate democratically and any profits generated are returned to the members.

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Community Development Corporation (CDC)

locally based nonprofit organizations that work to help the residents of impoverished areas to improve their quality of life. Such organizations exist in virtually every major urban area of the United States today and in some rural communities as well. CDCs provide residents with a variety of different benefits, including developing and managing affordable housing, day care for children, nursing home care for the elderly, employment opportunities, job training, and health care facilities. Some CDCs act as part-owners of vital businesses within their neighborhoods, like supermarkets and shopping centers, while others assist residents in starting their own small businesses.

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Community development entity (CDE)

a corporation or partnership that is authorized to provide loans, grants, or financial counseling in low-income communities. A certified CDE can apply to the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund at the U.S. Department of the Treasury to receive a New Markets Tax Credit allocation, which provides tax credit incentives to investors for equity investments in certified CDEs, which invest in low-income communities.

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Community development financial institution (CDFI)

a financial institution that has a primary mission of community development and provides credit and financial services to underserved markets and populations. CDFIs have provided critical loans to expand healthy food retail in many communities.

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Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund)

is located at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The fund was created for the purpose of promoting economic revitalization and community development through investment in and assistance to community development financial institutions. The CDFI Fund provides the New Markets Tax Credit Program to community development entities, which enable them to attract investment from the private sector and reinvest these amounts in low-income communities.

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Community economic development (CED)

a process by which a community uses resources to attract capital and increase physical, commercial, and business development and job opportunities for its residents.

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Community supported agriculture (CSA)

a way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer and for the farmer to minimize risk by selling at the beginning of the season, which protects against crop failure and loss. The structure can vary, but in general a farmer offers a certain number of "shares" to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (membership/subscription) and in return receive a box of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.

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Convenience store

a small store that carries primarily dry groceries and has a limited selection of perishables, prepared foods, and general non-food merchandise. They usually carry about 800 to 3,000 unique products. It is often used interchangeably with the term “corner store,” but can vary based on preference. Convenience stores are usually open 24 hours.

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Corner store

a small-scale store that typically sells a limited selection of foods and other products. The term “corner store” encompasses a diverse range of small stores—both independent and chain stores; in rural, urban, and suburban settings; and not always located on a corner. Other terms that are commonly used to refer to this type of store include small-scale store, convenience store, neighborhood store, and bodega.

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Direct costs

costs associated with activities or services that benefit specific projects, e.g., salaries for project staff and materials required for a particular project. Because these activities are easily traced to projects, their costs are usually charged to projects on an item-by-item basis.

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Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT)

an electronic system that allows a customer to use a payment card to buy food and beverages approved through SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program. Offering an EBT machine at farmers’ markets or other healthy food retail locations encourages customers to use their government benefits on healthy food.

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Equity

just and fair inclusion. An equitable society is one in which all can participate and prosper. The goals of equity must be to create conditions that allow all to reach their full potential.

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Equity investment

the provision of capital to a business entity in return for a portion of ownership using a third-party agreement as the contractual instrument

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Farmers’ market

a retail market featuring foods directly sold by farmers to consumers. Typically outdoors, farmers’ markets provide residents with high-quality, fresh, healthy food. They also help support small-scale farmers. Farmers’ markets range in size from small, seasonal markets in a parking lot to large markets run by an organization and serving several thousand shoppers. They are generally organized as nonprofit, community-serving entities and thus combine social and economic objectives. Their vendors need to make profits, but the markets themselves are not typically profit-seeking entities.

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Food access organization (FAO)

a nonprofit, focused on access to healthy food. An FAO advocates for community need and brings a public health perspective to the table in the administration of a fresh food financing initiative.

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Food desert

an underserved area or an area with low supermarket access. This is an area with limited access to affordable and nutritious food, particularly such an area composed of predominantly lower income neighborhoods and communities. For additional information on underserved communities, another term often used in substitute of food desert, go to the Defining Underserved Primer.

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Food hub

a centrally located facility with a business management structure facilitating the aggregation, storage, processing, distribution, and/or marketing of locally/regionally produced food products

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Grant

a financial award given by the federal, state, or local government or by a private foundation to an eligible grantee. Grants are not expected to be repaid by the recipient. Most grants are competitive.

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Guaranteed loan

a loan guarantee is a promise by a person or an entity to assume a debt obligation in the event of nonpayment by the borrower. The federal government provides loan guarantees to small business owners.

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Hard cost

expenditures for construction or acquisition of real property and major alterations and renovations of real property

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Healthy food

whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy, and lean meats that are perishable (fresh, refrigerated, or frozen) or canned as well as nutrient-dense foods and beverages encouraged by the Federal Dietary Guidelines for Americans

 

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Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI)

a federal program that works to improve access to healthy foods in underserved areas, to create and preserve quality jobs, and to revitalize low-income communities by providing loans and grants to eligible fresh, healthy food retailers to overcome the higher costs and initial barriers to entry in underserved, urban, suburban, and rural areas. For more information, go to the HHFI Fact Sheet.

 

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Healthy food retail

a business that sells fresh healthy foods (see definition above) in underserved areas. At minimum, a healthy food retailer offers for sale at least 3 different varieties of food in each of the 4 staple food groups (bread and grains; dairy; fruits and vegetables; and meat, poultry, and fish), with perishable food in at least 2 categories, on a daily basis or the store has at least 50 percent of its total sales (including food and nonfood items or services) from the sale of eligible staple foods

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Incentives

a series of financial and zoning incentives provided by governments to encourage the establishment of healthy food retail in underserved communities. These incentives attempt to address some of the disincentives facing food store development and operation.

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Indirect costs

costs for activities or services that benefit more than one project. Their precise benefits to a specific project are often difficult or impossible to trace. For example, it may be difficult to determine precisely how the activities of the director of an organization benefit a specific project.

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Job creation

new jobs that did not exist prior to the start of the project and came about as a result of the existence of the project. These activities can include the development of a new business, the expansion of existing businesses, or the construction of a new healthy food retail location.

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Leakage

retail leakage means that residents are spending more for products than local businesses capture. So for example, residents of a town without a grocery store leave the area to shop at a nearby supermarket. Retail sales leakage suggests that there is unmet demand in the trade area and that the community can support additional store space for that type of business.

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Limited assortment supermarket

sometimes referred to as a discount supermarket, it is a self-service retail store that carries a reduced number of unique products, typically around 4,000. Store sizes vary but are typically between 13,000 to 25,000 square feet. Limited product offerings and store size translate to reduced costs for consumers.

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Loan

money loaned to a borrower for a given purpose to be repaid, usually at a stated rate of interest and within a specified period

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Low-income community

any population census tract that meets one of the following criteria established by the U.S. Bureau of the Census: the poverty rate for census tract is at least 20 percent or the low-income community is located in a census tract that does not exceed 80 percent of either that statewide or metropolitan median family income

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Mission-related Investment (MRI)

Investments made by foundations in support of charitable purposes, with the explicit understanding that those investments will earn below-market returns, adjust for risk and mission. Although a program-related investment is not grant, it counts toward a foundation’s payout requirements in the year a disbursement is made.

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Mobile market

a grocery store on wheels, typically a truck or trailer, that brings fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, dairy and other shelf-stable essentials to communities that would otherwise lack access to these healthy foods

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Mobile vending

sometimes called “food trucks,” are food retailers that sell mainly prepared foods. Mobile vendors frequently change locations depending on foot traffic

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National funds

any federal appropriation or financial assistance (including grants, loans, and equity investments) that are raised by a national fund manager to carry out the goals of a bill, policy, or initiative

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Natural/gourmet store

a specialty retail store focused on healthy food, vitamins and other supplements, and/or gourmet prepared foods. These stores tend to have a limited selection of general merchandise. Store size varies significantly

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New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC)

a program providing individual or business investors with a credit against federal income taxes for investing in a qualified community development entity. These entities must in turn use these funds for qualified low-income community investments.

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Nonprofit organization

an organization (including a faith-based organization or community development corporation) exempt from taxation by reason of paragraph (3) of Section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986

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Policy efforts

policies that are underway and established in addition to other efforts that currently range from food financing initiatives to other policy efforts such as changes to SNAP incentives to increase access to healthy food. To learn more about policy efforts in healthy food retail, go to Policy Efforts

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Private foundation

a charitable organization that provides grants to organizations, institutions or individuals that support foundation goals. A private foundation receives money from a family, an individual, or corporations; they do not solicit money from the public.

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Program-related investment (PRI)

Investments made by foundations to support charitable activities that involve the potential return of capital within an established time frame. PRIs include financing methods commonly associated with banks or other private investors, such as loans, loan guarantees, linked deposits, and even equity investments in charitable organizations or in commercial ventures for charitable purposes.

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Public-private partnerships (PPPs or P3s)

an agreement between a public agency and a private sector entity to work in partnership on a shared project. In the case of fresh food access, public-private partnerships for fresh food financing have been created in multiple states across the country. For additional information, go to the Public-Private Partnership Primer.

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Quality jobs

jobs that provide wages that are comparable to or better than similar positions in existing businesses of similar size in similar local economies, offer benefits that are comparable to or better than what is offered for similar positions in existing local businesses of similar size in similar local economies, and are targeted for residents of neighborhoods with a high proportion of persons of low income

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Retail strategy

many different approaches that exist for bringing healthy food to communities. This can include grocery stores, corner stores, co-ops, community supported agriculture, food hubs, mobile markets, and farmers’ markets among others. Go to the Retail Strategy section for a detailed description of each of these strategies

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Revolving loan fund

a distinct loan fund established exclusively as a resource to pay for eligible business development and operational activities that, when repaid, generates additional program income to make new loans

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Supercenter

a large discount store that devotes as much as 40 percent of its space to grocery items. On average, supercenters are 170,000 square feet

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Superettes

smaller stores that sell mostly packaged and perishable food items with a basic, small selection of products. Sometimes called “mom & pop” stores, annual sales are less than $2 million.

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Supermarket

a self-service retail store that sells dry groceries, canned goods, nonfood products, and perishables and is often characterized as having annual sales of $2 million or more. These stores typically carry between 15,000 and 60,000 unique products and tend to have multiple service departments including but not limited to bakery, butcher, deli, fishery, floral, pharmacy, photo, etc. Traditional supermarkets vary significantly in size but typically range between 20,000 to 65,000 square feet.

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Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, provides financial assistance for purchasing food to low-income people in the United States. Administered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the program is available to nearly anyone with little income and few resources. Participants use Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT), an electronic system to obtain food and beverages approved through SNAP.

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Task force

a group of people who come together to address a certain issue. On this site, The Food Trust’s task force process is often highlighted. This is a group of public health, economic development, grocery industry, civic, and government leaders who come together to come up with recommendations about how to better support fresh food retail in a particular state or city.

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Technical assistance

providing advice, assistance, and training pertaining to the many facets of healthy food retail. Such services may be provided on-site, by telephone, or by other means of communication. These services address specific problems and are intended to assist those seeking to expand access to healthy food retail.

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Underserved communities

in general, this term refers to any geographic area that has limited access to healthy food retailers and is otherwise determined to have serious healthy food access limitations. For additional information on underserved communities, go to the Defining Underserved Primer.

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Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)

provides federal grants to states for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk

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