– 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 around $1 million to improve access to healthy foods in underserved communities in California.
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.”
The projects that received funding in California were:
- In San Diego, Project New Village, a black, indigenous, people of color-led grassroots nonprofit, is working to revitalize a low-income community and will build a community food hub in San Diego, CA, featuring a small neighborhood grocery, commercial kitchen space, cold storage, and prepared food vendor stalls through a project called Mt. Hope Good Food Hub. They will receive $200 thousand to support the overall development of this project.
- In Los Angeles, Prosperity Market is a mobile farmers market featuring Black farmers, food producers, and chefs that will receive $200 thousand for a project. For this pilot project, they are expanding their existing partnership with the Los Angeles Food Policy Council’s Healthy Neighborhood Market Network (HNMN) with the Prosperity Farmstand at HNMN. The HFFI grant will support building out Prosperity Farmstand at HNMN to expand and preserve the availability of staple and perishable foods for retail sale in food desert communities.
- In Los Angeles, The Niles Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit positioned at elevating low-income and disadvantaged communities within Los Angeles. Their project is called The Halo Food Project. An HFFI grant award of approximately $200 thousand will be used for start-up costs in expanding TNF's current philanthropic fresh food access operations into full-mobile retail stores for disadvantaged communities, streamlining equitable food systems that remove transportation barriers, and are inclusive of SNAP and EBT.
- In Los Angeles, Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles was awarded more than $100 thousand to expand their digital platform for online SNAP purchasing and home delivery. SEE-LA, an operator of mission-driven farmers’ markets, is in the process of developing a digital platform - "eat!" - that provides an online collective selling space for the 300+ farmers and food vendors to sell directly to customers. HFFI funds will support SEE-LA's project to enable "eat!" to offer online SNAP processing and delivery at their existing seven farmers' markets.
- In Imperial Beach, SunCoast Market Co-op is a resident-led effort to improve healthy food access and create a better food system by opening a community owned-and-governed cooperative grocery store in an underserved community. SunCoast Market Co-op will serve as a transformative community hub for improved healthy food access, community education, and economic opportunity for local residents, farms, and producers. HFFI grant funding of $200 thousand will support the construction and renovation of an existing 6,200-square-foot retail space in a shopping center.
- In Oakland, Saba Grocers Initiative was born from a successful Oakland, California grassroots campaign, uniting Arab-American and Muslim members of local corner stores to dismantle barriers to hyperlocal fresh food access. Currently, Saba partners with Jalisco Market — a store located in the Brookfield neighborhood of Deep East Oakland, which sells some staple and perishable foods but has a need to expand their produce and frozen health food sections. HFFI funds of almost $100 thousand will support the expansion of Jalisco Market’s fresh produce section and establish a frozen section.
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.