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USDA Announces New Partnership to Increase Rural Residents’ Access to Healthy Food

Christine Feroli
Release Date

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary Lisa Mensah today announced the selection of Reinvestment Fund to serve as the National Fund Manager for the Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI). As the National Fund Manager, Reinvestment Fund will raise capital, provide financial and technical assistance to regional, state and local partnerships, and help fund projects to improve access to fresh, healthy foods in underserved rural areas.

“Many of our rural communities lack grocery stores,” Mensah said. “Without access to fresh and affordable food, residents in these areas suffer poor health outcomes and diminished opportunities. Reinvestment Fund has a well-established record of investing in rural healthy food projects. We are pleased that they will bring their expertise to this partnership with USDA.”

The Healthy Food Financing Initiative is an innovative program that enables three federal agencies, USDA and the Departments of the Treasury and Health and Human Services, to work together to increase access to healthy foods in underserved communities. While these federal agencies each administer HFFI projects independently, they meet periodically to share the most effective methods to implement healthy food outreach efforts and support state and local governments as well as the private sector. These types of investments not only improve healthy food options but also increase opportunities for employment, help revitalize distressed communities and open up new markets for farmers to sell their products.

Reinvestment Fund is a community development financial institution (CDFI) dedicated to creating economic and other opportunities in low-income communities. In 2004, it created the first state-sponsored healthy food financing program in Pennsylvania: the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative. Since then, it has provided more than $248 million in grants and loans to support 163 projects, including $73.2 million in rural areas. More recently, in 2014 Reinvestment Fund created ReFresh, a capacity-building initiative that is composed of 19 CDFI partners. ReFresh partners represent an estimated $8 billion in community investments, including $2 billion in rural areas.

The National Fund Manager, which was authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill, is an essential component of the Healthy Food Financing Initiative. As the Fund Manager, Reinvestment Fund will work with USDA to create financial services to establish and support grocery stores and other businesses to provide fresh and healthy food in rural areas. 

Since 2009, USDA Rural Development (@USDARD ) has helped more than 1.2 million rural residents buy homes; funded nearly 9,200 community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care facilities; and invested more than $14 billion to start or expand nearly 122,000 rural businesses. USDA also invested $38.6 billion in 1,057 electric projects that have financed more than 198,000 miles of transmission and distribution lines serving 4.6 million rural residents; and helped bring high-speed Internet access to nearly 6 million rural residents and businesses. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/results.