Financing Will Help Grocers, Markets and Other Organizations Provide Healthy Food Options to Underserved Communities
WASHINGTON, June 9, 2022 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Under Secretary Xochitl Torres Small announced today that the Department has partnered with Reinvestment Fund to invest $22.6 million to improve access to healthy foods in underserved communities across the country. The investments are being made through the Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI), which helps bring grocery stores and other healthy food retailers to underserved urban and rural communities.
“The Biden-Harris Administration and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack are committed to creating local and regional food systems that benefit all Americans, from farmers and ranchers to small businesses and families who currently have to travel a long way from home to find fresh, healthy food,” Torres Small said. “USDA is proud to partner with Reinvestment Fund to ensure that these resources reach the communities where they are needed most, so people can find nutritious food options wherever they live.”
Today’s announcement includes investments that will support 134 projects in rural, urban and Tribal communities in 46 states, Puerto Rico and Washington D.C.
For example in Texas:
- Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) will use HFFI support to establish a mobile market, Wellness on Wheels, which will increase retail food access of low cost, nutritious foods to underserved communities throughout Dallas County.
- Little Red Box Grocery (LRB) is a grocery model that works to reduce barriers to good food access and nutrition education across Houston. Following the launch of a pilot store in Galveston, LRB is building a store in Houston to sell nutritious and affordable food and meal kits in an under-resourced community. Combined with other grant sources, HFFI funds will support construction costs and initial capacity to offer in-store programming and consumer engagement.
- The French Company Grocer is the sole provider of grocery staples, perishable goods, produce, and prepared foods to the rural, underserved community of Marathon, Texas. HFFI grant funds will support an expansion project that will revamp their ability to provide fresh, healthy, and affordable groceries to the community, as well as allow the grocer to increase employee benefits.
- Urban Harvest is seeking to address the food insecurity gap through its farmers markets, farmers stands, and mobile markets, providing families in the Houston area with locally-grown produce and pantry staples. An HFFI grant will support the launch of a second mobile market that will bridge the gap for individuals living in underserved areas, and increase opportunities for farmers and small businesses.
Many low-income communities lack adequate, affordable access to healthy food. HFFI provides grants and loans to entities that offer healthy foods in communities that are underserved by grocery stores and other food retailers. The program increases access to healthy foods, provides new market opportunities for farmers and ranchers, stabilizes small and independent retailers, and creates quality jobs and economic opportunity in low-income communities.
Reinvestment Fund serves as the National Fund Manager for USDA. It raises capital; provides financial and technical assistance to regional, state and local partnerships; and helps fund projects to improve access to fresh, healthy foods in underserved areas. Today’s announcement builds on Secretary Vilsack’s announcement that USDA is committing an additional $155 million to HFFI that will also be delivered it in partnership with the Reinvestment Fund.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, promoting competition and fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.
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