December 1, 2010
On Tuesday, November 30, Senator Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA) introduced bills (S 3986/HR 6462) in the Senate and House, respectively, that would establish the Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) within the USDA. Nine Senators and five Representatives joined as original co-sponsors.
The HFFI program would improve access to healthy food in underserved areas and revitalize low-income communities by providing loans and grants to fresh, healthy food retailers to overcome the various barriers to entry in underserved urban, suburban, and rural areas.
Eligible food retailers would include supermarkets, grocery stores, and farmers markets that expand or preserve the availability of healthy, fresh, high quality unprepared and unprocessed foods, particularly fresh fruits and vegetables, in underserved areas, and that require an investment of public money in order to remain competitive. Priority would be given to projects that create quality jobs, support local or regional food production, or are accessible by public transit.
Underserved areas, as defined in the proposed legislation, are low- to moderate-income communities that meet certain population and supermarket density criteria, or that have geographic barriers, such as highways, mountains, or major bodies of water, preventing access to healthy food retailers.
The HFFI was proposed by the Obama Administration as part of the President’s budget proposal to Congress early this year and has received some positive attention in the congressional appropriations process, though that process is currently stalled. The new bill would provide the legislative underpinnings for similar efforts in the future. It will have to be re-introduced (with new bill numbers) at the start of the new Congress next year. Read more about HFFI on Policy Link’s website here .