Louisiana

Federal Policy Efforts (State-specific)

Low Income Investment Fund

Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF) is using HFFI funding to provide financing and technical assistance to food markets located in, or planning to locate in, low- to-moderate-income communities that lack access to affordable, healthy food. LIIF has funded projects in Louisiana, New York, and Pennsylvania. Some of the funds from the award were used to support the transformation of a 65,000-square-foot abandoned supermarket in New Orleans into the ReFresh Market, an integrated healthy food center. ReFresh New Orleans, an $18 million New Markets Tax Credit transaction mixed-use project, received $1.5 million leveraged funds from LIIF to transform the vacant building into a healthy food hub. It is expected to create and preserve more than 110 jobs. You can find more information about LIIF here and about ReFresh Market project here.

Source of money: HFFI CDFI-Financial Assistance Program

Note: LIIF is a CDFI headquartered in California, but LIIF is also working in Louisiana, New York, and Pennsylvania.

ASI Federal Credit Union

ASI Federal Credit Union (ASI) is using HFFI financing for the Healthy Foods Revolving Loan Fund, which was created in 2011 in partnership with the CDFI Fund to strengthen the healthy food distribution network in the New Orleans area. In 2011, ASI was one of 12 Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) awarded grant funds to serve food deserts. The New Orleans Food Co-op, located in the New Orleans Healing Center on St. Claude Ave., is one of the first businesses ASI partnered with to eliminate food deserts in the area. The co-op has remained committed to providing access to healthy food at a fair price with a focus on local and regional food production in the 66 census tracts identified as food deserts in New Orleans. You can find more information here.

Source of money: HFFI CDFI-Financial Assistance Program

State & Local Policy Efforts

Mid South Healthy Food Initiative

Administered by Hope Enterprise Corporation in partnership with The Food Trust, the Mid South Healthy Food Financing Initiative is a regional healthy food financing program that offers offers flexible financing for new store development and renovations, as well as training with retailers to promote healthier choices projects across three states in the Mid South region. The initiative started in New Orleans but has grown to support grocery projects in urban areas across Mississippi, Louisiana and the greater Memphis area. The program was developed through the support of $3 million in initial seed funding from the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, which was leveraged further by  the national Healthy Food Financing Initiative. For more information about the program, visit the program website 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 StoreReFresh/Whole Foods, and Dryades Public Market.

Policy Efforts to Watch: Louisiana Healthy Food Retail Act
Concurrent with the implementation of the FFRI, statewide advocacy efforts led to the passing of the Healthy Food Retail Act in 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.  Advocates of the Healthy Food Retail Act, including Together LouisianaMarket UmbrellaTulane University’s Prevention Research Center and The Food Trust, among others, have been working together to get funding allocated for the program.

  • Check out this video from Together Louisiana 2015 Statewide Assembly where residents, community leaders and government officials speak to the importance of and support for the Healthy Food Retail Act.

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. One key response to the committee’s recommendations was 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 a full understanding of Healthy Food Financing Initiatives from advocacy to implementation, see The Food Trust’s Healthy Food Financing Handbook.

To find examples of other federal, state, and local policy efforts and initiatives -- as well as financing opportunities -- by going to Find Money & Policy Efforts by State.