September 23, 2019 – The Louisville Association for Community Economics was among 23 grantees announced last month to receive financial and technical assistance awards through the Healthy Food Financing Initiative’s (HFFI) inaugural grants program. Funding for the HFFI grants program is provided by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. Ten projects received a total of $1.4 million in financial assistance and another 13 projects received a total of $400,000 in technical assistance awards.
“This award was right on time,” says Cassia Herron, Board President of LACE. “We have been learning and organizing for four years now and just launched our ownership campaign. We are thrilled to have another national partner helping us to alleviate the challenge that many of our neighbors experience in search of good food close to home.”
Awardees were selected through a competitive process that was open to eligible fresh food retail projects seeking financial and technical assistance to overcome the higher costs and initial barriers to entry in underserved areas. More than 240 applicants from 46 states, territories and the District of Columbia applied for financial assistance grants with a total request of $42.5 million.
As the National Fund Manager, Reinvestment Fund administered this inaugural funding round for healthy food retail projects to expand access to healthy foods in underserved rural and urban areas, to create and preserve quality jobs, and to revitalize low-income communities.
“Access to healthy food is about more than making sure all Americans have easy access to nutritious, affordable food—it is also about strengthening local economies and community infrastructure,” said Don Hinkle-Brown, President and CEO of Reinvestment Fund. “The response to this funding opportunity is indicative of the immense need and the innovative approaches communities are undertaking to support equitable access to fresh, healthy food for everyone.”
Of the 10 financial assistance awardees, seven serve rural communities and eight are minority-, women- and/or tribal-owned businesses or organizations. Six of the grantees are also projects located in or that serve very low-income areas,defined as census tracts where the median income is not more than 50% of Area Median Income.
LACE will use its $30,000 grant to support the store’s ownership campaign to raise $250,000 in ownership shares, and for business development activities. LACE hopes the Louisville Community Grocery will:
- improve food access in one of Louisville’s downtown neighborhoods
- employ community residents
- provide a stable market for local and regional food producers and other local businesses
- serve as a community gathering and learning space
- use sustainable and just business practices in labor policies, food and product procurement and in the development and building of the store
LACE invites the community to join the Louisville Community Grocery online at loufoodcoop.com under “Get Involved.” Shares are $150 and seniors and youth up to 20 years old are $25. Those with additional means can offer the business on-interest loans or donate a share for someone else.
LACE is also recruiting board members for its organization and for new owners of the store and is hosting two informational events:
- Tuesday, Sept 24, 5:30PM-7:00PM, Southern Hospitality Bar & Grill (3402 W Broadway); Presentation at 6:00PM
- Friday, Sept 27, 11:45AM-1:15PM, Chef Space (1812 W Muhammad Ali); Presentation at 12:15PM
Financial assistance grant recipients comprise a broad range of healthy food retail projects that need support with a variety of aspects of development, and expansion. In addition to the 10 projects receiving financial assistance in the form of direct grants, 13 projects were selected to receive technical assistance. A full list of awardees is available at www.investinginfood.com.
To be eligible for assistance, healthy food retail project applicants had to: 1) plan to expand or preserve the availability of staple and perishable foods in underserved areas with low and moderate-income populations; and 2) accept benefits under the supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP).
While new at USDA Rural Development, the U.S. Department of the Treasury and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have invested in healthy food projects through Community Development Financial Institutions and Community Development Corporations since 2010. To date, federal support has totaled $267 million in grants and has leveraged an estimated $1 billion in additional financing. It has 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.