case study: HFFI and Entrepreneurs of Color

HFFI programs boost economic opportunity for minority-owned businesses by providing them with access to the capital needed to grow their businesses. Food businesses tend to have high start-up costs and, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency, inadequate access to financial capital continues to be an important constraint limiting the growth of female and minority-owned businesses across all business types. In traditional credit markets, “minority-owned businesses are found to pay higher interest rates on loans. They are also more likely to be denied credit, and are less likely to apply for loans because they fear their applications will be denied.” The following case studies highlight the important role that HFFI can play in meeting the financing needs of entrepreneurs of color across the food system.


With funding from New Orleans’ Fresh Food Retailers Initiative along with an Economic Development Fund grant from the city and a loan from the Louisiana Office of Community Development, Circle Food Store owner Dwayne Boudreaux was able to finance the reopening and renovation of Circle Foods and add to the continued redevelopment of the Seventh Ward community following Hurricane Katrina. According to HUD, 28,000 low- to moderate-income residents live within a one-mile radius of the store and will now have improved access to healthy food. The store created 65 full- and part-time jobs for the community and 95 percent of these positions are filled by local residents.

A complete case study and advocacy leave-behind on the project can be found in this profile on the Healthy Food Access Portal


The Agua Gorda Cooperative, an LEDC-incubated farming business, saw its sales increase more than threefold thanks to HFFI financing. In 2013, the Agua Gorda Cooperative grew $40,000 worth of produce but lost half because of limited storage and marketing options. Now with the help of HFFI financing, the co-op has access to a walk-in cooler and two refrigerated trucks, enabling them to secure $80,000 in sales contracts. The increase in sales volume has enabled Agua Gorda to negotiate the purchase of a 54-acre farm for their expansion plans. The cooler and refrigerated trucks have been crucial to scaling up local immigrant-owned farm businesses and supporting the LEDC marketing cooperative, whose members include three other Latino farm ventures and a Hmong farm co-op involved in warehousing, incubating, storage, aggregation, and distribution. Another HFFI-financed LEDC investment will support El Chinelo Produce, a Latino-owned retail and wholesale grocery. A $150,000 loan helped El Chinelo Produce expand from a 5,000-square-foot space to a 16,000-square-foot warehouse, expanding their wholesale distribution system, which serves Latino restaurants and small Latino grocery stores. In addition to improving healthy food access in Latino communities by distributing additional fresh produce, El Chinelo Produce will also hire 15 production employees.

A complete case study and advocacy leave-behind on the project can be found in this profile on the Healthy Food Access Portal


With support from FreshWorks, Northgate was able to open 30,000 square feet of new grocery retail in Inglewood, including a full line of products specifically catered to the local Latino community. Within a mile and a half of the Northgate store location, the immediate population is nearly two-thirds Hispanic, and 28 percent African-American. Improving food access for 105,000 nearby residents by providing quality, affordable, and culturally relevant foods, Northgate’s Inglewood site has been well received by community members, who are excited to shop at a high-quality nearby store. In addition to a broad range of healthy offerings, Northgate operates its signature Viva La Salud program on site, providing recipes, educational materials and nutrition workshops with a registered dietitian. They partner with nonprofits and health providers who sponsor events focused on health and wellness education and offer bilingual nutrition information on store shelves to highlight healthy choices for customers and employees. Providing a much-needed source of healthy food and community wellness resources, Northgate has also served as a critical economic anchor for the area. The Inglewood store has created 125 new jobs, most of which are held by local residents.

In addition to these critical contributions to food access and local economic development, Northgate is investing in their employees and the broader communities they serve. The company funds continued education, tuition reimbursement programs, and skill development programs for their employees, and provides competitive pay and benefits, and training in health and wellness topics. Furthermore, Northgate Market gives back to the community, supporting local health fairs and donating over $100,000 every year for scholarships, school technology and youth sports programs.

A complete case study and advocacy leave-behind on the project can be found in this profile on the Healthy Food Access Portal and the California FreshWorks Food Access Report


Although Highland Falls Mayor Joseph E. D’Onofrio temporarily alleviated the problem of limited access to healthy foods by having local government sponsor a shuttle bus service to a nearby supermarket, a long-term solution was needed. Fortunately for the community, Lisa Berrios and Albert Rodriguez, a husband and wife team, stepped up to the challenge of bringing healthy foods back to Highland Falls. The couple applied to the HFHC Fund and was awarded $300,000 in grant funding and a $500,000 loan to help renovate the physical layout of a new supermarket in a vacant retail grocery space, left vacant by a departing grocery store a year earlier. After additions and a needed expansion of the store’s fresh produce department, MyTown Marketplace, a now 12,000-square-foot retail space, is serving the Highland Falls community. In addition to LIIF and The Food Trust, supporters of the project included Empire State Development, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, the New York State Health Foundation and Reinvestment Fund. MyTown Marketplace has brought 20 full- and part-time jobs to the community while improving access to healthy food for local families and individuals.

A complete case study and advocacy leave-behind on the project can be found in this profile on the Healthy Food Access Portal

Next Section: Emerging HFFI Programs

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