Healthy Food for Ohio Program
In June 2015, Governor John Kasich signed the FY 2016-17 operating budget that includes a $2 million provision of seed capital to create the statewide Healthy Food for Ohio program (HFFO). HFFO supports the development of new and existing grocery stores and other healthy food retail in underserved areas throughout the state. Launched in March 2016, HFFO provides financing for costs associated with land acquisition, predevelopment, construction, equipment, infrastructure, and related expenses as well as credit needs not typically filled by conventional financial institutions and is operated through the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services. Finance Fund, a CDFI, is working with The Food Trust, a national food access organization, to review each application and determine whether each proposed project meets program goals and is financially viable. Applicants for funding will be evaluated and approved on a rolling basis while funds remain available. For more information, click here
For more information on the launch of the HFFO:
Background and Advocacy
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.
This report was used as the launching point for a series of meetings of the Ohio Healthy Food Financing Task Force beginning in June 2014. The Task Force, comprised of key stakeholders representing leaders from state agencies, foundations, grocery businesses, corporations, and nonprofit organizations, developed practical policy recommendations to support and encourage grocery store and other healthy food retail development in underserved areas across the state. The group identified the key barriers to healthy food retail and from those developed a series of policy recommendations to overcome these barriers. A key recommendation of this group was the creation of an Ohio Healthy Food Financing Initiative. Learn more about the policy recommendations generated by the Ohio Healthy Food Financing task force: Supporting Grocery Development in Ohio
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.
Efforts to create this program in Cincinnati began in February 2012, at the request of the Cincinnati City Council and the City Food Access Task Force, a group made up of public health, economic development, civic and grocery retail leaders. This group convened and began studying financing mechanisms to incentivize new retail food establishments to offer healthy food to underserved communities in Cincinnati.
Policy Efforts to Watch: Cincinnati Grocery Attraction Pilot Program
The Cincinnati City Council's Neighborhoods Committee recently approved plans for a new initiative, the Grocery Attraction Pilot Program, aimed at attracting new grocery retail and supporting existing retailers in areas designated as food deserts according to USDA’s definition. The program offers a number of new incentives to businesses, including waiving the annual city food service permit fee for up to five years, and also abating up to 75% of property improvements for 12 years or more to reduce operating expenses and the risk associated with operations. Read this article to learn more about the proposed program: Cincinnati wants to end food deserts. Here's how
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