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. In West Virginia, a total of $713,879 is being invested in five 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.”
“Every West Virginian should have access to healthy and affordable food options regardless of where they live,” said USDA Rural Development State Director for West Virginia, Ryan Thorn. “I’m thrilled that Rural Development’s Healthy Food Financing Initiative, in partnership with the Reinvestment Fund, has invested more than $713k to five businesses and organizations in the state 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 West Virginia, a total of $713,879 is being invested in five local foods projects:
- The Wild Ramp, The Wild Ramp Food Delivery Program, Huntington, WV, is receiving $154,810. The Wild Ramp, is a year-round, 501c3 non-profit farmers market based in Huntington, WV with a mission of supporting a vibrant economy and a community for local food, food products, and artisan goods. HFFI funds will be used to implement an online delivery option for curbside pickup at designated locations, making it easier for community members to access fresh, local food.
- Sprouting Farms, Upscaling Retail Sales for Food Access, Talcott, WV, is receiving $70,000. In a project partnership, Fruits of Labor, Inc., a culinary & agricultural training center and cafe, and Sprouting Farms (SF), a nonprofit agricultural business incubator, will use HFFI funds to support the expansion of both organizations' current food access retail efforts. Support for expanded retail offerings and mobile market operations will help address food access barriers in the Summers County community.
- H & T Farm Market, H & T Farm Market Revitalization, Lost City, WV, is receiving $180,000. The H& T Farm Market is a family-run operation that is the largest certified pasture raised organic and humane table egg operation in West Virginia. HFFI funds will support in the renovation and reopening of a former grocery store as a revised general store specializing in local meats, produce and other products, bulk foods, dairy, canned foods, and household products.
- H.U. Market, Historically Urban Market aka H.U. Market, Bluefield, WV, is receiving $125,000. Historically Urban Market seeks to bring fresh food to central areas in rural West Virginia. HFFI funds will support the renovation of a vacant building in downtown Bluefield WV into a grocery market that provides fresh produce and staples. The market will serve as a food retailer purchasing fresh produce from local/regional farmers and vendors on consignment, then selling the food at a price affordable to the customers.
- Economic Development Greater East (EDGE) Incorporated, Mountain Farm Community Grocery, Kimball, WV, is receiving $184,069. EDGE will be launching Mountain Farm Community Grocery, to connect consumers with fresh and shelf stable foods in an area with limited food access. The grocery will offer dry good shelf space, and cooler and box space for fresh fruits and vegetables and refrigeration and freezers for local and regional value-added, dairy, poultry, and meat sales. An HFFI grant will support aspects of the store's development and opening.
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.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.