May 29, 2014
On Friday, May 23, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for fiscal year (FY) 2014 for Community Development Corporations (CDCs) under the Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI).
HFFI is a tri-agency program administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury, HHS, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to increase the availability of healthy food in low to moderate-income under-served communities (rural, urban, and suburban) through the creation and expansion of healthy food retail outlets such as grocery stores, farmers markets, and coops.
Healthy Food Financing at HHS
Administered by the Office of Community Services (OCS) within the Administration for Children and Families at HHS, this competitive grants program for CDCs seeks to fund projects that address food desert needs, increase healthy food access in low-income communities, and foster self-sufficiency for low-income families by creating sustained employment opportunities in low-income communities.
A total of $9.5 million is available, with a maximum award amount of $800,000. No match is required for this grant program. Examples of OCS HFFI-funded projects include financing the construction of grocery stores, providing direct assistance to farmers, supporting urban and rural farmers markets and retail markets, expanding existing food distribution businesses, and supporting food business entrepreneurs.
Funds can be used for costs associated with either business start-up or business expansion activities and must work to serve a food desert and create a minimum number of jobs based on a formula provided in the FOA. For FY 2014, incubator development is permitted, so long as the focus of the incubator is healthy food, demonstrates substantial and specific job creation for low-income individuals, and is located in a geographic location within the community.
Project Priorities and Proposal Deadlines
Bonus points are available for projects that are:
The deadline for applications is July 21, 2014. Award announcements are anticipated by September 30, 2014.
In addition, future deadlines for FY 2015 and FY 2016 funding cycles were also provided by the FOA, with submission period open 60 days prior to the listed due dates.
HFFI and the Farm Bill
The 2014 Farm Bill created a legislatively mandated Healthy Food Financing Initiative at USDA, modeled after existing HFFI programs at the Treasury and HHS, to expand access to healthy, fresh foods in low-income, under-served communities and create and retain local jobs. While the program was authorized in the farm bill, it will require an appropriation in the annual agriculture appropriations bill before being launched. To date, HFFI has not provided with funding during the consideration of the House and Senate versions of the current FY 2015 Appropriations cycle, though floor consideration has yet to occur for either bill. NSAC will provide updates on HFFI at USDA as any further details become available.