Emerging HFFI Programs
While HFFI programs have already been developed in many states, there are a number of HFFI programs emerging in new areas across the country, in response to the hard work of advocates who want to address poor access to healthy food in their community. The statewide HFFIs in Louisiana, Alabama, Minnesota, Massachusetts and the Mid-South are all notable programs in their early stages.
Alabama: With strong bipartisan support, Governor Robert Bentley signed the Alabama Healthy Food Financing Act into law on June 30, 2015. The legislation created the structure for a statewide revolving loan fund program, administered in partnership with the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, to provide incentives to develop, renovate or expand grocery stores in communities with limited access to fresh, healthy food. Advocates are actively working to secure funding for this new initiative. Read more about the legislative effort here.
Louisiana Healthy Food Financing Initiative: Concurrent with the implementation of the New Orleans FFRI, advocacy efforts are also underway to launch a new statewide healthy food financing program. First authorized in August 2009 through the Healthy Food Retail Act, the Louisiana HFFI will provide grants and loans to supermarkets, farmers markets and food retail providers to improve access to fresh fruits and vegetables in underserved communities across the state. In 2016, the program received capitalization through a $1 million federal Community Development Block Grant allocation.
Minnesota Good Food Access Fund: In Minnesota, the American Heart Association and Blue Cross Blue Shield built a coalition of local stakeholders to secure an initial public funding of $250,000 from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture for the Minnesota Good Food Access Fund (GFAF) during the 2016 legislative session. In addition to establishing permanent facilities for the sale of healthy, affordable food in areas of the state where better access to those foods is needed, an integral component of the Fund is the establishment of a Fund Advisory Committee. The GFAF Advisory Committee will assist the Commissioner of Agriculture in establishing program criteria, project eligibility guidelines, application processes and additional selection criteria, and annual monitoring and accountability mechanisms. The Advisory Committee will also facilitate leveraging of additional public and private investments, and promote the program statewide. While a modest investment, this program is anticipated to improve food access in targeted communities in Minnesota, which will provide local stakeholders with momentum to make future progress.
Massachusetts Food Trust: On August 10, 2016, Governor Charlie Baker signed a comprehensive five-year economic development bill into law, of which $6.4 million was authorized for the Massachusetts Food Trust. In May 2017, Governor Baker appropriated $1,000,000 in capital funds to launch the program, and in July 2017, the Governor signed into law the fiscal year 2018 budget appropriating another $100,000 for the administration of the program at the Massachusetts Office of Business Development. Established in law in 2014, the Massachusetts Food Trust will provide one-time loans and grants and technical assistance to expand and support new healthy food retailers and local food enterprises in low and moderate income communities, including grocery stores, corner stores, farmers markets, community kitchens, food co-ops, greenhouses and food distribution hubs.
South Carolina Healthy Food Financing Initiative: The South Carolina Food Access Task Force, led by South Carolina Community Loan Fund (SCCLF), secured $250,000 in funding for the South Carolina Healthy Food Financing Initiative from the S.C. General Assembly in the 2016 legislative session. The Task Force began advocating for program funding in 2012 as a strategy to increase access to healthy food in South Carolina’s underserved communities. The state investment will expand SCCLF's existing Healthy Food Retails Loan program, which is supported in part by the federal HFFI.
Mid-South Healthy Food Initiative: Administered by Hope Enterprise Corporation in partnership with The Food Trust, the Mid South Healthy Food Financing Initiative is a regional healthy food financing program that offers flexible financing for new store development and renovations, as well as training with retailers to promote healthier choices projects across three states in the Mid-South region. The initiative started in New Orleans but has grown to support grocery projects in urban areas across Mississippi, Louisiana and the greater Memphis area. The program was developed through the support of a $3 million initial seed from the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, which was leveraged further by other funding including the national Healthy Food Financing Initiative. For more information about the program, visit the program website here.