Improving Access to Healthy Food
National HFFI Efforts
With wide bipartisan support, Congress passed The Agricultural Act of 2014 (also known as the Farm Bill) on February 4, 2014, which for the first time will officially establish a national Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) at the United States Department of Agriculture. The inclusion of HFFI is a significant win for community leaders from across the country seeking to bring healthy food and jobs to their communities. PolicyLink, The Reinvestment Fund, and The Food Trust, along with local, state, and national healthy food advocates, have been working for many years to expand fresh food access in underserved areas throughout the U.S.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Representative Marcia Fudge (D-OH) worked with Committee Leadership Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Thad Cochran (R-MS), and Reps. Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Collin Peterson (D-MN), to include the $125 million HFFI program authorization.
Expanding access to healthy food is a key strategy within a multi-faceted approach to improve the food environment and advance community well-being. And supermarkets and grocery stores that provide access to healthy, affordable food are a necessary step toward that well-being. In many low-income communities, supermarkets not only improve access to healthier food options, they also bring much-needed jobs and spur economic revitalization. Click here for more details.
HFFI, which has distributed over $500 million in grants and tax credits across the country, has helped support grocery stores and other healthy food retail that prioritizes local hiring and supports work force training and development. This year, for FY 2013, the Community Economic Development (CED) program at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded $9.4 million to 14 CDCs and the Treasury Department’s CDFI Fund made $22.3 million in grants to ten CDFIs for a broad range of HFFI projects. The 24 grantees will invest in grocery stores, food hubs, urban farms, mobile farmers’ markets and other community projects that will improve access to healthy food, create jobs, and revitalize economically distressed urban and rural communities. For summaries of HFFI projects funded by HHS click here. The CDFI’s Fund description of HFFI program awards can be found here.
In 2012, $32 million was distributed to grantees across the country with $10 million through the CED program and $22 million through CDFI fund. In 2011 agencies were able to use existing authority and resources to provide $45 million for HFFI projects in 2011. The President’s 2014 budget requests $35 million for HFFI through Treasury, consolidating the program in one agency. See here for more details about the federal budget process.
HFFI grantees and stakeholders invested in improving access to healthy food convened in February 2013 and again in May 2012 in Washington, D.C. to take part in a national conversation to share strategies for empowering communities by improving access to healthy food. See here for a complete map of FY11 and FY12 HFFI grantees.
These exciting developments were made possible through years of policy work and advocacy from equity advocates nationwide, starting with community leaders who have pushed for decades for access to healthy food in low-income communities and communities of color, and also including The Reinvestment Fund, The Food Trust, and PolicyLink. Leaders in the White House and Congress clearly listened to the voices of residents, grocers, health experts, economists, and other community leaders forging a chorus in support of HFFI.
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Let's make sure we keep showing our support for healthy food access. Click here to send a letter to your legislator.
State and City HFFI Efforts
Efforts are underway in several states and cities to replicate the successful Pennsylvania FFFI program. Legislation has been passed and/or projects are underway in: California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas. See here for more details.