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Advocacy: Healthy Food Financing Initiatives


Improving Access to Healthy Food

Advocacy is the process of creating change. Whether the struggle is for decent affordable housing, steady jobs, efficient transit systems or healthy communities with clean air, parks, and full-service supermarkets, all citizens of this nation have the right to take their cause directly to the elected officials who represent them.  Advocacy can also influence institutional policies for the benefit of communities.

PolicyLink – and our partners at the local, regional, state, and national levels – recognize that we can be effective agents for change by connecting with activists and advocates, and exchanging ideas and information, best practices, and proven strategies for impacting policy. PolicyLink engages in advocacy campaigns to advance policies that will create opportunities for local residents to transform local food environments -- improving access to healthy food and creating jobs, improving local economic development, and innovating new models to create a more equitable food system.

National Healthy Food Financing Initiative

The Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) is a viable, effective, and economically sustainable solution to the problem of limited access to healthy foods, and reduces health disparities, improves the health of families and children, creates jobs, and stimulates local economic development in low-income communities. HFFI attracts investment in underserved communities by providing critical loan and grant financing. These one-time resources help fresh food retailers overcome the higher initial barriers to entry into underserved, low-income rural, suburban, and urban areas. It also supports renovation and expansion of existing stores so they can provide the healthy foods that communities want and need. The program is flexible and comprehensive enough to support innovations in healthy food retailing and to assist retailers with different aspects of the store development and renovation process. (Download HFFI 2-pager.) 

California State and Local Policy Efforts

The United States Department of Agriculture estimates that around 1.7 million California residents live in low-income communities and do not have access to a large grocery store within one mile of their home. 

This lack of access has health implications. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20% of California adults are obese, and researchers find that low-income children and children of color have the highest rates of obesity and related health problems. Improving access to healthy food can help address this crisis. 

Thankfully, Governor Brown recognizes the need for improving healthy food access and signed the California Healthy Food Financing Initiative! Read Details Here.

For information on California efforts, see the California Healthy Food Financing Initiative and the California FreshWorks Fund see here.

Other State and City Policy 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, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Detroit, D.C., New York City, and New Orleans. See here for more details.