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Fact: Since 2011, the federal Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) has leveraged over $140 million in grants and an estimated $1 billion in additional financing for grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and other healthy food enterprises in low-income food deserts.
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According to a 2012 study published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), more than 29 million Americans live in ‘food deserts,’ low-income urban and rural communities that lack access to healthy, affordable food. The Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) was created to address this problem by financing healthy food enterprises thereby creating jobs, improving health, and spurring investment in low-income communities.
An inter-agency initiative involving the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Treasury’s CDFI Fund, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the HFFI provides grants, tax credits, low-cost loans, and technical assistance to support the development of grocery stores, farmers’ markers, corner stores, and other healthy food enterprises. Since its creation in 2011, the HFFI has awarded over $140 million in grants, which has leveraged over $1 billion in additional financing to improve access to healthy food across the country. As a result, HFFI has enabled the financing of over 200 projects in 30 states.
Backstory: The HFFI in part resulted from the 2010 White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity, which found that limited access to healthy food is associated with higher levels of obesity and diet-related diseases among low to moderate income families.
Read more: For a quick overview of HFFI and its progress to date, read this brief published by PolicyLink, The Food Trust, and The Reinvestment Fund. Learn more about how the HFFI works in practice in this handbook published by The Food Trust.
Try this: Check out the USDA’s Food Access Research Atlas to identify food deserts by census tract nationally. Explore the Healthy Food Access Portal for information on HFFI and other efforts to improve access to healthy foods.