Healthy Food Financing Initiative announces $3 million in available funding for food retail and agritech startups
40 million Americans still live without easy access to fresh and healthy food options. The situation is even worse, especially during this coronavirus pandemic when more than 30 million Americans have lost their jobs. America’s Healthy Food Financing Initiative is a program that aims to improve access to healthy food and expand economic opportunity in underserved areas. The program also provides resources to healthy food retail and to overcome the higher costs and initial barriers to serving areas with inequitable access.
Today, America’s Healthy Food Financing Initiative through its Reinvestment Fund, is inviting applications for funding through the 2020 round of the Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) Targeted Small Grants Program. Funding for the HFFI Targeted Small Grants Program is provided by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), authorized by the Farm Bill. Reinvestment Fund serves as the national fund manager for the HFFI program at USDA. The 2020 HFFI round significantly increases the available funding compared to the previous round, offering $3 million in grant funds for food retail and food enterprises working to improve access to healthy foods in underserved areas, to create and preserve quality jobs, and to revitalize low-income communities.
“A resilient food system is essential to ensure that all Americans, regardless of where they live or how much they make, can get the food they need to keep their families healthy,” said Don Hinkle-Brown, President and CEO of Reinvestment Fund. “The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need to sustain a robust food system that serves all communities. We hope that these HFFI investments can seed improved access to healthy food in underserved communities and also fundamentally strengthen local food economies.”
Financial assistance is available in the form of direct grants to projects selected through a competitive application process. Applicants can be food retail and/or non-retail food system enterprises that seek to improve access to healthy food in underserved areas through food retail. The HFFI grants program is open to eligible for-profit, nonprofit, and cooperatively owned businesses, institutions of higher education, state and local governments and tribal governments. Grants could assist projects with a variety of aspects of project development, renovation, and/or expansion. Grants are designed to be one-time investments of capital into a food retail or food enterprise project and aim to unlock additional sources of capital, catalyze project sustainability, meet financing gaps, and/or enable deeper impact or project reach.
In conjunction with the grants program, Reinvestment Fund will also provide technical assistance to support selected early stage projects where resources would help build local capacity to develop a food retail outlet or enterprise and would clarify or advance an eligible project.
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed how essential grocery stores, food suppliers, and their employees are to providing essential goods and services to communities. The economic impact of the pandemic will only further constrain low-income families’ ability to afford and access healthy food. While the program is designed to support projects that respond to food access and food enterprise needs that were evolving prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, the program will also consider projects related to recovery from the pandemic, directly or indirectly.
The application has two phases–the first phase is a Letter of Interest, which is due on July 10, 2020. Eligible applicants will be invited to submit a full application in the second phase. The Request for Assistance (RFA), application materials and additional information are available at http://www.investinginfood.com. Questions may be directed to email@example.com. Reinvestment Fund is also hosting an informational webinar on the application process on June 2, 2020 at 2pm EST. Potential applicants can join the webinar at bit.ly/WebinarJune2. No registration is required.
An initiative of USDA Rural Development, HFFI projects and programs have also been supported by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Since 2010, HFFI programs have helped leverage more than $267 million in grants and an estimated $1 billion in additional financing. They have also supported nearly 1,000 grocery and other healthy food retail projects in more than 35 states across the country, revitalizing economies, creating jobs, and improving health.