Healthy Food Financing

WITHOUT ACCESS TO HEALTHY FOODS, TOO MANY CHILDREN AND FAMILIES ARE LEFT ASKING: WHAT’S IN STORE FOR US?
Going to the grocery store is something most of us take for granted. But for 29.7 million Americans who live in the food deserts-areas where it is difficult to buy fresh food-that trip to the grocery store is anything but easy. Low-income zip codes have 25 percent fewer chain supermarkets compared to middle income zip codes. The result? Access to fresh produce, dairy and other staples is very tough at best, and simply not an option for far too many. That results in higher rates of obesity and preventable health complications and diseases.

THE FACTS MAY SURPRISE YOU:

  • 29.7 million Americans across the United States are in food deserts.
  • In Dona Ana County alone, 59,300 people live in food deserts according to the US Department of Agriculture.
  • Greater accessibility to neighborhood supermarkets is associated with healthier living and lower body weather, as found in several large cross sectional studies.
  • Low-Income neighborhoods have 50 percent fewer supermarkets than the wealthiest neighborhoods.

We need a county-wide program to bring grocery stores and other good food outlets to our rural and urban communities to provide more access to fruits and vegetables, low -fat dairy, whole grains, seafood, and lean meals.

Healthy food financing is the answer. Its a policy initiative that helps put healthy foods in all communities, and there’s evidence that it can have huge benefits. The Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative (FFFI), created 5,000 direct jobs, and resulted in $190 million in total investment due to the state’s $ 30 million of seed funding. But not only that, it increased access to healthy food for over 4000,000 people.

Dona Ana County deserves to have access to affordable fresh foods. Healthy food financing can make a difference.

DID YOU KNOW: A single supermarket can create as many as 250 new jobs for local residents? We can increase access to healthier foods, create jobs and improve health by creating a healthy food financing initiative.

The Solution

A Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) is a viable, effective, and economically sustainable solution to the problem of limited access to healthy foods and can achieve multiple goals: reducing health disparities and improving the health of families and children; creating jobs; and stimulating local economic development in low income communities. A Healthy Food Financing Initiative would attract investment in undeserved communities by providing critical loan and grant financing. These one-time resources will help fresh food retailers overcome the higher initial barriers to entry into undeserved, low-income urban, and rural communities, and would also support renovation and expansion of existing stores so they can provide the healthy foods that communities want and need. The program would be flexible and comprehensive enough to support innovations in healthy food retailing and to assist retailers with different aspects of the store development and renovation process.

Healthy Food Financing Programs are good for the economy:

  • Grocery stores are cornerstones of a community
  • Boost the local economy and create jobs – new businesses employ people from the communities they serve, creating jobs in the communities that need them most
  • Expanding access to healthy foods creates new markets for local farmers
  • Potential to lower healthcare costs in the long run.

Healthy Food Financing Programs are good for health:

  • Improves public health, encourages proper nutrition and promotes a healthy diet
  • Decreases risk of diet-related diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke
  • An opportunity to help families establish healthier lifestyles
  • Provides options – living close to retailers that offer healthy and affordable foods is associated with better eating habits

 

The Plan – The goal:

Create a Healthy Food Financing Fund through an initial appropriation of at least $1.5 million from the City of Las Cruces and Dona Ana County combined, to be matched by private, foundation, and grant funds.

The Players

  • Loan servicing (CDFI)
    Raise capital and administer funds
    Determine applicant’s financial eligibility
    Originate and underwrite projects for grants and loans
    Report program impacts
  • Development and Outreach Services
    Develop program guidelines and materials with CDFI
    Conduct outreach and marketing to food retailers, individuals, and community leaders
    Determine applicant’s eligibility
    Advocate for community needs
    Evaluate program impacts
    Advocate for community needs
    Advocate for community needs
  • Local Governments
    Provide seed funding
    Oversee program implementation
  • Stakeholders
    A diverse group of multi-sector organization and individuals
    Government and community leaders
    Financial sector representatives
    Economic development leaders
    Public health professionals
    Children’s health advocates
    Food access advocates
    Supermarket industry leaders
    The knowledge and support these key groups bring to the table is necessary for a successful Healthy Food Financing Fund and policy

 

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