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Policy Effort to Watch: South Carolina Healthy Food Financing Initiative
The South Carolina Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) is aimed at increasing access to healthy foods for the more than one million South Carolina residents who live in food deserts. The Initiative will be a public-private partnership, which supports local farmers and businesses by providing access to loans to support the establishment, renovation or expansion of different food projects, including farm businesses, mobile markets, small food stores, and grocery stores.  The program is designed to provide flexible financing for the start-up, rehabilitation or expansion of businesses and nonprofits. To be eligible, applicants seeking financing must be located in a designated Food Desert Area or Low Supermarket Access Community.  Nonprofit organizations, for profit entities, and municipalities may apply for funding. 
The South Carolina HFFI will be administered by the South Carolina Community Loan Fund (SCCLF), a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) with an eleven year history of community based lending in South Carolina communities.  In addition to originating loans, SCCLF will provide technical assistance services to applicants for financial support.  
Background and Advocacy
In 2013, borne out of the SC Food Policy Council and with support from the South Carolina Department of Agriculture, the SCCLF convened the South Carolina Food Access Task Force. The task force developed five public policy recommendations to improve the availability of healthy, affordable food in underserved areas. These recommendations are rooted in a strategy that addresses capital, affordability, supply, planning and transportation.  Number one on the list of recommendations was the need to develop a healthy food financing initiative to provide capital to support the establishment, renovation, or expansion of different food projects, including food hubs, farm businesses, mobile markets, small food stores, and grocery stores that make available affordable, local, and healthy food. 


In 2015, SCCLF partnered with the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League, Eat Smart Move More SC, and the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) to advocate for funding to support the Healthy Food Financing Initiative.  As a result of these efforts, the South Carolina General Assembly included $250,000 in the state budget for the Healthy Food Financing Initiative in 2015. Due to the advocacy of SCCLF and partners, in June 2016, South Carolina General Assembly ratified the state’s budget which included an appropriation of $250,000 for the Health Food Financing Initiative. For update-to-date information about these advocacy efforts, visit the CFSA website here.  


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