Financing Will Help Grocers, Markets and Other Organizations Provide Healthy Food Options to Underserved Communities
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. In Delaware and Maryland, a total of $430,935 is being invested in three local foods projects:
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.”
“Access to healthy and affordable food options should be available to all residents of Delaware and Maryland, regardless of where they live,” said USDA Rural Development State Director for Delaware and Maryland, David Baker. “I’m thrilled that Rural Development’s Healthy Food Financing Initiative, in partnership with the Reinvestment Fund, has invested more than $430k to three businesses and organizations our states to help expand access to healthy foods, provide new opportunities for small producers, and strengthen local independent retailers.”
Nationwide, 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.
In Delaware and Maryland, a total of $430,935 is being invested in three local foods projects:
- CBCDC, Urban Acres Produce Online Market and Home Delivery, Wilmington, DE, is receiving $190,778. Urban Acres Produce LLC serves the Wilmington, Delaware region, with a focus on historically divested communities. The HFFI funds will be used to build out a new aggregation facility, which will support the expansion of a home delivery online marketplace. The marketplace features a sliding scale price structure to develop a robust revenue stream that will expand the number of low income households that can obtain high quality fresh produce at an affordable price.
- Mancuso Foods, LLC, Oasis Fresh Foods Market, Indian Head, MD, is receiving $200,000. The Indian Head Grocer Initiative is a grassroots partnership of residents and local small business working to break the chain of food insecurity in Indian Head, Maryland, a community with no place within a 7-mile radius to purchase fresh food. HFFI funds will support initial development costs for the community to open a grocery store that will source local produce, meats, seafood and prepared meals to go.
- VFF Produce, VFF Produce Mobile Farmers Market, Hagerstown, MD, is receiving $40,157. VFF Produce was established in 2019 after receiving a grant to run a mobile farmers market in Hagerstown, MD, which has a poverty rate of more than twice that of the county and three times that of the state as a whole. VFF produce seeks funding to support the continuation and upgrades of their operations that support their mission of bring affordable, fresh foods directly to the low-income, elderly, and often immobile, residents.
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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