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Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative


Policy Developer:  The Food Trust,PhiladelphiaPA, in partnership with The Reinvestment Fund and The Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Coalition

Main Stakeholders:  Supermarket operators and other fresh food retail establishments, communities and residents without a supermarket,Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (provides program oversight),The Food Trust (provides program outreach and evaluation), The Reinvestment Fund (supports the financing) and the Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Coalition (GPUAC) (ensures diversity among Initiative recipients).

Eligible to participate:  Food retail operators 1) operating or planning to operate in low-income, underserved communities where infrastructure costs and credit needs cannot be filled solely by conventional financial institutions, and 2) providing a full selection of fresh produce.  The Initiative funds a range of operators from regional chains and independents to renovated corner stores to cooperative models.

Intended population:  Underserved communities defined as low- or moderate-income census tracts, areas of below average supermarket density or an area having a supermarket customer base with more than 50% living in a low-income census tract or in other areas demonstrated to have significant access limitations to supermarkets due to travel distance. 

Setting: Urban, suburban and rural underserved areas inPennsylvania

How long in field:  The Food Trust began to formally address the issue in 1999, and the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative was established as part of the state’s 2004 economic stimulus package.

What does the policy do: The Fresh Food Financing Initiative was born out of Governor Rendell’s $150 million state stimulus package, which provided resources to a First Industries Program. That program established revolving loan program accounts, including a program account to provide financial assistance for projects related to agriculture. The definition of agriculture includes “the sale of farm commodities at retail by urban and rural supermarkets located or to be located in underserved areas.”

  1. The legislation funds planning grants for the costs of predevelopment activities and feasibility studies for supermarket projects.
  2. The legislation provides for funding and mechanisms to finance loans to construct supermarket projects.

With the support of State Representative Dwight Evans and other key legislators, the state appropriated $30 million over three years (2004, 2005 and 2006) that was then matched 3:1 by The Reinvestment Fund, to create the Fresh Food Financing Initiative. Similar legislation was established inIllinois(2009),New York(2009)New Orleans(2008) andLouisiana(2009).