Research has shown that the presence of retail outlets offering healthier food and beverage choices is associated with increased consumption of fruits and vegetables and lower BMIs. FFFI aims to improve the food environment. It is believed that this change in environment will directly lead to a change in dietary behavior and ultimately, improved health.
Strategies Used1: FFFI encompasses the following evidence-based strategies for healthy eating:
Changing access and availability to favor healthy foods and beverages by providing loans/grants to store operators to renovate or construct supermarkets in underserved areas and by increasing the selection of fresh foods at these supermarkets
Evaluation Outcomes: FFFI was developed and evaluated in the field as a policy. The Center TRT reviewed the policy for outcomes leading to: 1) environmental change and 2) public and organizational policy change with the potential to improve dietary behaviors. Outcome data related to dietary behavior change was not available at the time of this review.
Data provided by The Food Trust and The Reinvestment Fund demonstrate: total number of loans/grants made, dollar amount, square footage of stores and number of supermarkets that have been built/renovated due to the FFFI.
As of June 2009, the FFFI achieved the following environmental change outcomes:
69 new or improved supermarkets have opened and are currently operating in underserved areas inPennsylvania
23 inPhiladelphia; 46 in rural areas
5 approved projects have gone out of business, which can be considered a relatively low failure rate
FFFI-funded supermarkets provide a larger selection of fresh foods at lower prices than neighborhood convenience stores and restaurants, which often make up the majority of existing food sources in underserved areas. (This information was provided by The Food Trust; however, no direct data was available.)
At the time of the review, purchase/consumption data was not available, thus one cannot conclude that the FFFI has resulted in improved dietary behaviors or health, at this point. Data is currently being collected on dietary behavior patterns in residents within FFFI-geographic areas.
The FFFI has also created jobs for community members—at the time of the evidence review, 3,700 jobs have been created or retained in economically distressed areas due to this initiative.