Pennsylvania

Federal Policy Efforts (State-specific)

Opportunity Finance Network

Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) is using HFFI financing to make capital available to CDFIs focused on increasing access to affordable healthy foods in low‐income neighborhoods. By serving as an intermediary to the CDFI Fund’s capital, OFN is financing CDFIs that are ramping up their capacity to address food access issues, but are not prepared at this time to secure an HFFI‐FA award. OFN will target CDFIs seeking to finance projects in their communities that promote healthy food options, with an emphasis on mid‐tier food chain enterprises and retail outlets serving food deserts. This includes CDFIs with community facility or small business lending expertise with skills that are transferable to healthy food project lending. You can find more information here.

Source of money: HFFI CDFI-Financial Assistance Program

Note: OFN is headquartered in Pennsylvania, but supports projects nationwide.

​​​​​​​The Enterprise Center Community Development Corporation

The Enterprise Center Community Development Corporation (TEC-CDC) used HFFI financing to support the Center for Culinary Enterprises (CCE) in West Philadelphia. The CCE is a $6-million, 13,000-square-foot, LEED-certified food business accelerator that serves as a hub of community health and nutrition resources. The project will create a total of 112 jobs over a three-year period. TEC-CDC is also helping develop the Philadelphia Restaurant Incubator to allow low-income entrepreneurs and mobile food truck operators to pilot and test their businesses in West Philadelphia. The Philly Restaurant Incubator will create 51 new jobs and result in the launch of at least seven new businesses. You can find more information here.

Source of money: HFFI CDFI-Financial Assistance Program

Bridgeway Capital Inc.

Bridgeway Capital uses its HFFI financing to respond to the demand for fresh fruits and vegetables by providing retailers the resources and expertise to grow projects in offering nutritious choices. It assists stores to expand inventory to include healthy foods; renovate layout to sell healthy foods; upgrade equipment for improved stocking; upgrade displays for promotion; and learn to better manage healthy foods. Bridgeway Capital helped owners of 52nd Street Market, established in 2014 in Lawrenceville, PA, to supply fresh locally sourced food to the residents of an underserved urban area in Pittsburgh. To date, Bridgeway has deployed $2.2 million in HFFI transactions across 12 borrowers. These transactions have leveraged an additional $14.7 million in funding and total nearly 590,000 square feet of new or renovated commercial space dedicated to healthy foods. You can find more information here.

Source of money: HFFI CDFI-Financial Assistance Program

Hill House Economic Development Corporation

Hill House Economic Development Corporation used HFFI financing to support the completion of a 36,000-square-foot, full-service supermarket in the Hill District neighborhood of PittsburghPennsylvania. The supermarket will create 44 permanent, full-time positions and 56 part-time jobs in a high-unemployment neighborhood that has lacked a grocery store for more than 25 years. The Project leverages over $11,000,000 in funds, and it benefits from partnerships with the 1st Source Center Workforce development, East Liberty Development Corporation, Pittsburgh Community Services, Inc., Hill District Consensus Group, city county counselor, state representative, Pittsburgh Penguins, philanthropic community, city-county-state government. You can find more information here.

Source of money: HFFI CED Program

Fayette County Community Action Agency, Inc.

Fayette County Community Action Agency, Inc. is using HFFI financing to support the development of the Republic Food Enterprise Center (RFEC), a food hub located in Republic, Pennsylvania, and serving southwestern Pennsylvania. In addition to creating jobs in the food processing sector, the RFEC will coordinate with leading economic development organizations to support food-based initiatives and work to strengthen the connections between local growers, area residents, and leading commercial partners in the greater southwestern Pennsylvania region. This project intends to create up to 40 new, full-time jobs, of which 35 will be filled by low-income Fayette County residents. As part of the project, the RFEC also aims to expand six farmers markets in the region as part of this project. Previous projected impacts aimed to operate a food hub in a 50,000 sq. ft. warehouse, partnering with regional growers and suppliers to serve southwestern Pennsylvania. This would involve working with farmers, grocers, restaurants, the local food bank, and area farmers’ markets. This would create jobs in the food processing sector, and add 2 vans for mobile markets and increase the capacity of cooler space to benefit entrepreneurs involved with the project. You can find more information here.

Source of money: HFFI CED Program

People's Emergency Center Community Development Corporation

People's Emergency Center Community Development Corporation (PECCDC) strengthens West Philadelphia communities by connecting residents to needed resources, stimulating economic growth by supporting the arts and businesses along Lancaster Avenue, expanding housing and employment opportunities, providing technology education, and improving the quality of life for all residents. A powerful catalyst for change, PECCDC builds neighborhood assets and responds directly to the needs of the community. Their mission seeks to nurture families, strengthen neighborhoods, and drive change, committing to increase equality and opportunity throughout the community. They provide comprehensive supportive services to homeless women and children, revitalize the neighborhood, and advocate for social justice.  You can find more information here.

Source of money: HFFI CED Program

​​​​​​​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 HFFI financing supported The Plaza at Chelten project, a 50,000-square-foot retail and healthy food center in Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood. You can find more information 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.

Reinvestment Fund and Nonprofit Finance Fund

Fare & Square, a 16,000-square-foot supermarket, is the culmination of numerous attempts to attract a full-service grocery store to Chester, Pennsylvania. The store is located in an area where over 70 percent of residents live in a food desert according to data from the USDA Economic Research Service. Reinvestment Fund and Nonprofit Finance Fund partnered to help finance Fare & Square, which is the nation’s first grocery store run by a food bank.  The opening of Fare & Square created 69 full- and part-time jobs, which are filled primarily by Chester community residents. Fare & Square opened in September 2013. You can find more information here

Source of money: HFFI CDFI-Financial Assistance Program

Note: Reinvestment Fund is a CDFI headquartered in Pennsylvania that finances projects in Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Nonprofit Finance Fund is a CDFI headquartered in NewYork that used HFFI financing in Pennsylvania.

State & Local Policy Efforts

Policy Efforts to Watch: The Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative

Despite the positive impact of the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative (see below), inequitable access to healthy food retail in the state still exists: Many lower-income communities across the commonwealth have both poor access to healthy food and high rates of diet-related death. The uneven distribution of grocery stores in Pennsylvania leaves a disproportionate number of lower-income people without access to nutritious food. This issue impacts more than 15% of the state’s population, as over 2 million Pennsylvanians, including more than 500,000 children, live in lower-income areas with limited access to a local grocery store. The Food Trust, Reinvestment Fund, Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association and other groups are undergoing efforts in Pennsylvania to call upon the state to reinvest in the FFFI.
In 2015, The Food Trust conducted a voter opinion poll to capture
Pennsylvanians’ attitudes toward improving healthy food access and investing in public-private partnerships to finance healthy food businesses. The poll found that:

  • Pennsylvania’s children should have access to fresh, healthy food: 79% of respondents believe it is important that children have healthy food access in their neighborhoods.
  • Pennsylvania should invest in healthy food financing: 70% of respondents are supportive of financial incentives that encourage businesses to open grocery stores in areas where children do not have access to healthy food.

More details about the campaign, including The Food Trust’s Pennsylvania voter opinion poll methodology,  can be found at www.thefoodtrust.org/Pennsylvania.

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

Creating the PA FFFI started with The Food Trust’s mapping in 2001 of neighborhoods in Philadelphia that were lower-income, had poor access to a supermarkets, and suffered from higher rates of death from diet-related disease. These findings were published in a report, Food for Every Child: The Need for More Supermarkets in Philadelphia.

The maps engaged city leadership around the issue of healthy food access and its connection to health. As a result, in 2003 The Food Trust convened the Philadelphia Food Marketing Task Force, which met to identify the barriers to healthy food retail development and come to consensus around a series of policy recommendations to overcome these barriers. The task force released a report, Stimulating Supermarket Development: A New Day for Philadelphia, specifically recommending the state develop a business financing program to support local supermarket development projects. This report, along with the leadership of Representative Dwight Evans and other key champions, led to the creation of the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative.

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.

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.