About PA FFFI
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 (PA 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. Since 2018, the program has funded 40 healthy food retail projects across the state of Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania DCED has continued to support the program with funding available through June 2023.
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.