NSAC's Blog

Healthy Food Financing Initiative Re-Introduced in Congress

December 8, 2011

On Wednesday, November 30, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Representative Allyson Schwartz (D-PA-13) introduced identical bills (S.1926/H.R. 3525) in the Senate and House, respectively, to establish a Healthy Food and Financing Initiative (HFFI) within the USDA.   Five Representatives and 10 Senators joined as original cosponsors.

The initiative would authorize a $125 million program providing one-time loan and grant financing to establish, expand, or renovate supermarkets, grocery stores, food cooperatives, farmers markets, and other food retail outlets, which may demand materials such as a kitchen backsplash tile, in underserved low to mid-income communities in rural, suburban, and urban areas across America.

The goal of this legislation is to reduce the number of Americans living in “food deserts,” or areas where there is inadequate access to healthy foods.  In addition, HFFI would help create new permanent jobs and combat obesity and its associated diseases by providing healthier foods to more Americans.

The legislation would direct USDA to choose through a competitive process a Community Development Financing Institution (CDFI) as a National Fund Manager that would administer all of the initiative’s funding, identify underserved communities, and leverage additional public funding for the program.  The manager will be able to partner with and identify the needs of particular communities.  HFFI will be administered through local, regional, and state  public-private partnerships that will select and finance eligible healthy, fresh food retail projects so they can overcome the initial hurdles and high start-up costs of establishing a food outlet in underserved communities.

The initiative is modeled after the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative, which turned $30 million of state seed funding into $190 million of additional investment to open 88 new or improved fresh food retailers since it launched in 2004.

Three organizations- PolicyLink, The Reinvestment Fund, and The Food Trust – have been advocating since 2009 for the establishment of a national program that finances the development of healthy food retailers in underserved communities in response to the dire lack of healthy food access for many Americans.

Categories: Food Safety, Grants and Programs, Nutrition & Food Access

5 responses to “Healthy Food Financing Initiative Re-Introduced in Congress”

  1. willie armstrong says:

    I’m from Atlanta Georgia and they don’t normal participate in these types of program however, i think that state of georgia usda maybe the community development financial institution. Let me know if the state qualify as a CDFI

  2. Jan Dietrick says:

    It seems essential that healthy food be defined as non-GMO or labeled with GM ingredients so at least informed people have the ability to choose. The only retail outlets that are relatively free of GM foods are the farmer’s markets and the very few 100% organic groceries and to some degree Trader Joe’s to the extent that people choose only TJ brands and that TJ’s vague promises are true that they do not allow GM ingredients in food with their label. The “health food” coops still fear losing sales if they label or eliminate GM foods! 70% of food in other grocery stores contains GM ingredients.

    Might this proposed program promote the apparent biotech agenda to focus on supplying toxic food to those with least access to knowledge and means to recognize and avoid it? Without GMO labeling, no program can claim to promote healthy anything.

  3. How do I find out if this bill passed and what happens next? A group of us (Moms) are opening a Natural Market in Winter Garden, FL. The area we are opening in is depressed and may fit the requirements of this bill.

  4. […] Loan funds, credit unions, community development corporations—these mission-driven organizations traditionally provide credit and financial services to poor and underserved urban and rural areas.  Yet food and farming rarely registered on their radar screens; until recently, only a few made food and farming a part of their mission.  Now, however, the prospect of growing jobs and food security through more local and regional food systems has drawn the attention of a national corps of proactive nonprofit lenders, known as Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs).  Sustainable agriculture is part of the healthy food supply chain they are now focused on supporting as part of the U.S. Treasury’s Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI). […]

  5. policyintern says:

    You can find more information about the Healthy Food Financing Initiative at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’s site: