The Success of HFFI

State and Local
There has been significant growth in the development of state and local HFFI efforts across the country over the past decade. On the heels of the success of the Pennsylvania campaign and the FFFI, advocacy efforts led to the launch of similar programs in New York, Illinois and the City of New Orleans in 2010. To date, 10 state and city programs and the federal HFFI have launched in order to increase access to healthy food and support economic vitality. Through grant and loan incentives to grocers and other healthy food retailers in underserved communities, these programs have all had substantial impacts on the food access landscapes of the regions they serve.

Understanding and disseminating success and impacts can be helpful in making the case for investment in HFFI programs in new locations. The chart below highlights the key outcomes these programs have achieved in supporting fresh food retail development in underserved low-to-moderate income areas to date. Across state and local programs, more than 250 projects have been financed, adding millions of square feet of retail space (See Chart Below). For more information on how these programs have been structured, please visit the chart of HFFI Programs Across the Country

HFFI Chart

The Federal HFFI
In 2009, PolicyLink, The Food Trust and Reinvestment Fund initiated a national campaign, with partners and stakeholders from across the country, to create a comprehensive federal response to address the limited and inequitable access to healthy foods in low-income communities in both rural and urban America.

First unveiled at the Fresh Grocer in Philadelphia in 2010, First Lady Michelle Obama kicked off the Let’s Move campaign to reduce childhood obesity and announced the creation of the federal Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI). The cornerstone of federal efforts to improve food access, the federal HFFI has awarded almost $200 million to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) and Community Development Corporations (CDC) through the CDFI Fund at the United States Department of Treasury and the Office of Community Services at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Nearly six years later, more than 100 organizations, representing a diverse set of stakeholders, have voiced their support for a national solution to the lack of access to healthy food. The campaign has resulted in the inclusion of HFFI in the Agricultural Act of 2014 (the 2014 Farm Bill), where it was authorized for up to $125 million at USDA. Most recently, USDA acted on the authorized legislation and solicited applications for the program’s National Fund Manger— a national CDFI to serve as an intermediary between the agency and local CDFIs. The National Fund Manager has the ability to award funds to CDFIs and finance individual projects in communities not reached by CDFIs, specifically those in rural areas. In January 2017, USDA named Reinvestment Fund as the HFFI National Fund Manager, and in May 2017, Congress appropriated $1 million to the HFFI program at USDA and the National Fund Manager in its fiscal year 2017 omnibus spending package. 

The Federal HFFI At-a-Glance

Since fiscal year 2011, the federal HFFI has awarded more than $195 million to more than 80 community development organizations in over 35 states and tribal communities (26). HFFI’s public-private partnership model has leveraged more than an estimated $1 billion in additional grants, loans and federal tax incentives, and together, these programs have supported 958 healthy food projects across the country to date (26) (27) (28). One-time grants and loans targeting underserved urban and rural communities and small towns have brought jobs, economic development, and healthy food access to lower-income communities across the country.

HFFI projects by awardees of the Community Economic Development program at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have created or expanded 752 businesses and created 1,092 new full-time positions for low-income individuals since 2011 (28). These HFFI investments have also leveraged more than $208.5 million in additional funding from a variety of sources, including public and private investments and USDA programs such as the Farmers’ Market Promotion Program and the Rural Enterprise Grants Program— an additional $4.69 leveraged for every $1 granted (28).

In 2015, the CDFI Fund at the U.S. Department of Treasury reported 206 HFFI investments totaling $88.3 million by 21 CDFI grantees since 2011 (27). Retail investments in 119 retail projects totaling more than $69 million have created 1,564,732 square feet of new retail space for projects ranging from small green grocers to large supermarkets throughout the country (27). Investments in 87 non-retail projects have totaled more than $19 million and have created 1,718,088 square feet of space for eligible healthy food activities, including farms, food hubs, food processing facilities and incubator kitchens (27).

Not only has the groundswell of HFFI efforts at the local and state levels have made the case for the federal response to inequitable access to healthy food, but the federal HFFI has in turn supported and seeded emerging statewide programs, such as the Healthy Food for Ohio program and the Michigan Good Food Fund. It has also invested in new stores supported by local healthy food financing efforts, including the New Orleans Fresh Food Retailer Initiative’s ReFresh project in New Orleans, LA.[1]


Next Section: Evaluating HFFI


[1] Learn more about the ReFresh Project here.

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