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Healthy Food Financing Initiative brings jobs and nutritious food to low-income families

A new set of investments that will allow organizations to create or expand businesses that increase access to healthy food in low-income communities.

The Community Economic DevelopmentHealthy Food Financing Initiative (CED-HFFI), funded by the Office of Community Services at HHS’ Administration for Children and Families, will award $7.4 million to 11 community-based organizations to address the lack of healthy, nutritious food options in low-income neighborhoods.

CED-HFFI grants enable local, nonprofit and community development corporations to apply for grant funding for up to $800,000 to improve access to healthy food and reduce food deserts. Awardees use the funding to develop businesses, such as grocery stores, farmers markets and food-distribution businesses that increase access to healthy food options, especially in places where access to healthy options is otherwise scarce.

“Increasing access to healthy food is one thing we can do to ensure children and families reach their full potential. The Healthy Food Financing Initiative does just that, while also creating jobs and business opportunities in low-income communities where they are needed most.” -Jeannie Chaffin, Director, Office of Community Services

The Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) at HHS is just one component of an interagency initiative that also involves the U.S. Treasury Department and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The goal of this interagency initiative is to increase healthy food access by promoting a wide range of community initiatives that expand the supply of and demand for nutritious foods, including increasing the distribution of agricultural products, developing and equipping grocery stores, and strengthening producer-to-consumer relationships. Both HHS and Treasury have specific funds Congressionally-authorized and appropriated for HFFI use. USDA’s activities have focused on developing community-based solutions using existing programs.

The Treasury Department’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) offers Healthy Food Financing Initiative Financial Assistance (HFFI-FA) to financial institutions and community development organizations that use these funds to spur efforts to improve access to healthy foods with local grocers and retailers in urban and rural areas.

Concurrently, one way USDA has been able to encourage nutritious purchasing patterns is by providing $100 million for incentives at the point-of-sale for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants to purchase more fruits and vegetables in various venues, including farmers markets and retail stores. Partner organizations and state governments joined in the effort by providing matching funds meaning that $1 in SNAP benefits can purchase up to $2 in fruits and vegetables. The program, called the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive program, awarded its first round of grants in the spring of 2015 and awarded a second round of funding earlier this yearVisit disclaimer page.

Quick Facts

  • This round of CED-HFFI grants are expected to generate or increase 38 businesses in local communities and create 347 new full-time positions.
  • Of the 347 new jobs, 271 will be filled by individuals with low-incomes.
  • CED-HFFI grantees are estimated to leverage over $121.3 million in additional public and private funds.
  • According to USDA, an estimated 29.7 million people live in low-income areas more than one mile from a supermarket.
  • Residents of these communities, which are sometimes called “food deserts,” are typically served by fast food restaurants and convenience stores.
  • Residents living in “food deserts” typically experience higher levels of obesity and other diet-related diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
  • Since 2011, the CED-HFFI program at HHS has awarded $51.89 million and the CDFI Fund’s CDFI Program has awarded a total of $136.84 million HFFI-FA funds to certified CDFIs.