According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 29.7 million Americans live in communities where a healthy diet is out of reach. Lower-income communities have fewer grocery stores and other healthy food retail outlets that provide a wide selection of affordable, nutritious foods. This problem impacts residents in both urban and rural areas— especially those living in communities of color. 

Healthier communities create healthier economies, and research shows that the development or presence of a grocery store not only improves access to healthy foods but also creates jobs and stimulates additional investment.

As a response to the need for more healthy food retail, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, The Food Trust, The Reinvestment Fund and the Urban Affairs Coalition launched the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative (FFFI) — the nation’s first statewide healthy food financing program in 2004. Seeded with $30 million in state funds over three years, the FFFI provided one-time grants and loans to grocery operators and other healthy food retailers to build or expand markets in under-resourced communities. The program concluded in June 2010 when state funds were fully deployed.

In 2018, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania recapitalized the PA FFFI with $1 million in seed funding through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) with a mission to improve access to healthy food using a holistic food systems approach. Between 2018 and 2020, the program funded 22 healthy food retail projects across the state of Pennsylvania.  In 2020, the Pennsylvania DCED supported the program with an additional $1 million in funding through June, 2022.

The PA FFFI  provides one-time support for costs associated with opening, renovating or expanding eligible food businesses. Financing packages may include grants, loans and other funding tools on a case-by-case basis in order to appropriately meet the needs of each project. Eligible projects can qualify for up to $50,000 in grant funding. 


Overseen by DCED, the FFFI is administered by The Food Trust in partnership with PA-based community development financial institutions (CDFIs) and community development corporations (CDCs).

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The Food Trust is a national nonprofit dedicated to ensuring that everyone has access to affordable, nutritious food and information to make healthy decisions. Headquartered in Philadelphia, The Food Trust provides leadership and business assistance for partners across the country. As the Food Access Organization (FAO) for the FFFI, they will help to ensure that applicants meet program eligibility requirements.


Reinvestment Fund is a catalyst for change in low-income communities. We integrate data, policy and strategic investments to improve the quality of life in low-income neighborhoods. Using analytical and financial tools, we bring high-quality grocery stores, affordable housing, schools and health centers to the communities that need better access—creating anchors that attract investment over the long term and help families lead healthier, more productive lives.

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Bridgeway Capital provides patient, flexible capital and business education to ignite small business growth, develop communities, increase access to healthy foods, and expand social services. We invest in inclusive economic opportunities that create a vibrant region where all can thrive. Bridgeway is a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) by the U.S. Treasury Department and is a member of the Opportunity Finance Network.

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Community First Fund is a private, independent non-profit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) whose mission is to provide capital in places where it is not usually available. We seek to create positive change in a community by providing entrepreneurs with access to business development loans for projects that generate jobs, create affordable housing and help to revitalize communities.

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The Pennsylvania Department of Economic and Community Development (DCED) is the state agency overseeing the FFFI. They will be a key partner in ensuring that the Commonwealth’s goals are being met in improving food access and supporting local farmers and local food.

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