case study: new york
In many neighborhoods and communities in New York state, residents struggle to access affordable, healthy food. In 2008, The Food Trust published a report, which found that many lower-income communities in New York City experienced inadequate levels of healthy food access and high rates of diabetes, Special Report: The Need for More Supermarkets in New York. The Food Trust, the Food Policy Coordinator of New York City, the NYC Council, the Food Bank of New York City and the Food Industry Alliance of New York State, with funding from the Friedman Foundation, convened the New York Supermarket Commission in 2006 to explore barriers to developing healthy food retail in areas of need and generate public policy recommendations to overcome these barriers.
Commission members included grocery industry leaders, government leaders, financial sector representatives and children’s health advocates. The Commission developed policy recommendations to improve the availability of affordable, nutritious and locally grown food in neighborhoods underserved by supermarkets and published them in the report, Stimulating Supermarket Development: A New Day for New York. A key recommendation was to encourage the State of New York to create a business financing program that could help grocery operators overcome the high upfront costs of retail development in underserved communities. In response to this recommendation and the Commission’s major findings, in 2010, New York State’s then Governor David Paterson launched the Healthy Food and Healthy Communities Fund (HFHC Fund) to improve access to healthy, locally grown foods for residents across the state by providing affordable financing to grocery operators and other groups seeking to expand access to healthy food retail.
The Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF), a New York-based CDFI, and The Food Trust were selected by Empire State Development Corporation through a competitive process to create and administer the HFHC Fund. The $30 million program was capitalized with $10 million from the Empire State Development Corporation and $20 million from Goldman Sachs Bank. In addition, the Fund received operating grants from New York State, the New York State Health Foundation and Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group. By supporting healthy food retail, the HFHC Fund seeks to improve the health and economic well-being of all New Yorkers and expand market opportunities for New York State farmers.
During the life of the program from 2010 to 2016, the $10 million investment from the State of New York leveraged over $192 million in additional funding. The HFHC Fund provided grants and loans to 25 diverse projects in urban and rural communities throughout the state, both in New York City and many upstate cities and rural towns, such as Buffalo, Syracuse, Mount Vernon, Red Creek, Highland Falls, Poughkeepsie, Rochester, Hudson and Broome County. Projects included new and expanded or renovated grocery stores, mobile markets, farmers markets and corner stores. In total, 200,130 square feet of healthy food retail space was created or preserved and 1,450 direct permanent and construction jobs created or preserved. Local farmers and producers were also supported through the HFHC with ten recipients of financing participating in the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets’ Pride of New York program. For more information, read about the impacts of HFHC.