Reps. Evans and Fudge Introduce Bill to Reauthorize the Healthy Food Financing Initiative

February 14, 2018
Press Release

Today, Congressman Dwight Evans (PA-02) and Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11) introduced legislation to reauthorize the Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI).  The Healthy Food Financing Initiative Reauthorization Act of 2018 authorizes $125 million to provide loans, grants and financing opportunities for food retailers, farmers markets, cooperatives and others who face barriers to carrying and selling fresh fruits and vegetables.

“In my career as a public servant there are very few legislative achievements that I’m prouder of than the Healthy Food Financing Initiative, which started in my home state of Pennsylvania as a $30 million dollar appropriation and leveraged with $145 million in additional investment to provide loans and grants.  The program gained status as a proven and economically sustainable federal program that is helping improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods; by allowing millions access to healthy, affordable food by successfully funding over 88 public-private partnerships in our Commonwealth to serve over 400,000 families,” Congressman Evans said.

“Over 2 million Ohioans, including more than half a million children live in neighborhoods with too few supermarkets and places to purchase healthy, affordable food.  This lack of access to healthy and nutritious food undermines the health and wellbeing of our communities,” said Congresswoman Fudge.  “The Healthy Food Financing Initiative provides a proven way to ensure our children grow up with the resources they need to live healthy lives.”

“Our three organizations applaud Congress for their leadership and commitment to improving community health and outcomes by improving access to healthy food,” said Angela Glover Blackwell, PolicyLink CEO.  “Supermarkets and other healthy food retail represent more than healthy food choices - they are also about creating jobs, supporting community businesses and local entrepreneurs, and revitalizing neighborhoods.  The reauthorization of HFFI into the next Farm Bill is a powerful step towards creating equitable and sustainable access to fresh and healthy foods across America.”

“There is a community of private organizations who are ready to partner with USDA to build on HFFI’s proven track record of not only improving access to healthy food but expanding economic opportunities and creating jobs in rural and urban areas,” said Don Hinkle-Brown, Reinvestment Fund CEO.  “We urge Congress to reauthorize the HFFI program at USDA and support this public-private partnership.  With its focus on connecting entrepreneurs and small businesses to the hard-to-find capital and technical assistance that they need to grow, the HFFI at USDA has to be part of any comprehensive strategy that aims to connect all Americans to prosperity.”

“Every child deserves to have quality, nutritious food readily available in their community.  Recent research has shown the HFFI model impacts health, reduces food insecurity, and creates jobs for the most marginalized communities and we applaud members of Congress for investing in the health and well-being of these families,” said Yael Lehmann, President and CEO of The Food Trust.

Accessing healthy food is a challenge for too many Americans.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that 40 million people live in neighborhoods without easy access to fresh, affordable, and nutritious food options. This is particularly a challenge for low-income neighborhoods, communities of color, and rural and tribal areas.  The Healthy Food Financing Initiative Act of 2018 presents an effective and economically sustainable way to the problem of limited food access and can help improve the health of families and children.

In addition to the direct nutritional benefits experienced by families, healthy food retail improves the economic health and well-being of communities and can help to revitalize struggling business districts and neighborhoods.  Healthy food businesses help to create jobs across the food system, increase or stabilize home values in nearby neighborhoods, generate local tax revenues, provide workforce training and development, and promote additional spending in the local economy.

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Media Contact: Becca Brukman, 202-225-4001, Becca.Brukman@mail.house.gov

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