Frequently Asked Questions

Please refer to the eligibility criteria for full program guidelines.

What is the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative (PA FFFI)?

Funded by the state, the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing provides one-time loans, grants, and funding for business assistance to food retailers that are for increasing access to healthy, affordable food in low-income, underserved areas. The program offers critical financial and technical support to help launch and expand businesses that increase food access, create jobs, and stimulate economic investment in urban, suburban, and rural communities across the Commonwealth.

When did the PA FFFI start and who manages it?

The PA FFFI is overseen by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), and administered by The Food Trust, with support from CDFI partners Reinvestment Fund, Community First Fund, and Bridgeway Capital. The program was established in legislation in 2004 with funds being fully deployed in 2010. After a multi-year advocacy campaign spearheaded by The Food Trust and partners of Food Forward PA, the Pennsylvania legislature included $1 million of seed funding to recapitalize the program in the Fiscal Year 2018 capital budget. The program officially launched in spring 2019. The Pennsylvania DCED has continued to support the program with funding available through June 2024.

What projects are eligible?

To be eligible, projects must expand access to high-quality, affordable and nutritious food in under-resourced neighborhoods via a retail outlet. They must also fit local community needs and demonstrate support from local residents.

Applicants may be for-profit, nonprofit, or cooperative entities. Eligible projects include the development, renovation and expansion of:

  • Supermarkets
  • Grocery stores
  • Corner stores/bodegas
  • Food hubs
  • Mobile markets
  • Co-ops
  • Farmers markets
  • Food aggregation and processing centers with a direct connection to direct-to-consumer retail outlets


The project must be located in an area that is low-to-moderate income, meaning it’s either in a census tract with a Median Family Income of up to 80% of Area Median Income, or a poverty rate of 20% or higher. The area must also be underserved by fresh food retail, so there can’t be other similar fresh food markets or grocery stores already within its trade area.

Projects must operate and provide service in Pennsylvania. To the extent possible, they must also accept SNAP and WIC, and include team members with experience managing a similar food project. Each eligible application will be assessed for financial viability.

Please refer to the eligibility criteria for full program guidelines.

What projects are prioritized for funding?

Preference is given to new or expanding independently owned projects that build wealth within communities most affected by lack of healthy food access, and that enhance racial, gender, and economic equity, and support the environment and local food system. Businesses are encouraged to demonstrate how they promote opportunities for enterprises of diverse ownership, hire employees from the surrounding neighborhoods, pay living wages, source food from PA farmers, increase accessibility for customers through means of public transportation, and align with existing goals of local government and residents. The program will also strive for diversity of types of projects and project locations in urban, suburban, and rural areas across the Commonwealth.

How does the application process work?

There are 2-3 application deadlines throughout the year, roughly every 4-6 months. Application deadlines and the full application process can be found here.

What resources are available?

The PA FFFI program provides loans, grants, and funding for business assistance.

Financing packages may include loans, grants, and other funding tools on a case-by-case basis to appropriately meet the needs of each project. Each eligible application will be underwritten and assessed for financial viability.

Projects can qualify for up to $50,000 in grant funding.

What are permitted uses of funds?

Grants and loans can be used for equipment and other capital expenses, real estate, tenant improvement and infrastructure, initial inventory for start up grocers, and working capital.

Non-eligible expenses include certain recurring operating expenses (e.g., salaries, rent, licensing fees, permit fees, insurance, utilities).

Can I apply for both a loan and a grant?

Yes. Some applications may be approved for a grant only; others may be approved for both a grant and a loan. 

I have already received funding from the PA FFFI. Can I apply again?

This is a one-time grant and loan program. If your business has more than one location, you may apply for funding at a different site.

When is the next deadline?

You can find information about upcoming deadlines here. To sign up for updates, fill out the form on our homepage.

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