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USDA Partners With Reinvestment Fund to Invest More Than $500,000 to Increase Equitable Access to Healthy Foods Across Maine

Name
Nicole Howell
City
Bangor
Release Date
Jun 16, 2022

Financing Will Help Grocers, Markets and Other Organizations Provide Healthy Food Options to Maine’s Underserved Communities

WASHINGTON – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Under Secretary Xochitl Torres Small announced that the Department has partnered with Reinvestment Fund to invest more than $500,000 to improve access to healthy foods in Maine’s 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.”

USDA Maine State Director Rhiannon Hampson said, “Here in Maine the 3 HFFI awards being invested to support all people having access to healthy, and often local, foods are a win-win. More of our community members will be able to put fresh food on their tables, our Maine farmers and ranchers can grow their outlets close to home, and the entire supply chain is strengthened in the process. I am grateful that the Biden-Harris Administration deeply understands that supporting equity in quality food access is critical for both economic development and rural health outcomes.”

This 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:

  • Farmer’s Market Space @ 24 Court Street in Skowhegan, Me, will use its $200,000 HFFI award to construct 24 Court, a new building on the campus of the Maine Grains gristmill and home of the downtown Farmer’s Market. This indoor space will be a permanent market plaza outdoors for year-round operations of the 25-year-old Farmer’s Market local food and nutrition assistance programs for low-income families.
  • Cooperative Development Institute in Lewiston, ME, will use its $200,000 HFFI award to support predevelopment staffing and professional services as a part of a longer-term construction project. CDI and its partners will develop Lewiston Community Food Center, a hybrid food center model, which will provide fresh, healthy, and affordable staple and perishable foods through scaled, low-cost retail operations.
  • Good Turn Coop in Rockland, ME, will use its $135,700 HFFI award to support an expansion of the store’s footprint by 900 square feet to house essential new refrigeration and freezer units, and to provide new retail space.

Background

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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