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Healthy Food Financing at HHS

From the National Sustainable Ag Coalition...

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a modified Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for fiscal year (FY) 2015, updated from last year’s announcement for Community Development Corporations (CDCs) under the Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI).

HFFI is a tri-agency program administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury, HHS, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to increase the availability of healthy food in low to moderate-income under-served communities (rural, urban, and suburban) through the creation, expansion, and equipping of healthy food retail outlets such as grocery stores, corner stores, and farmers markets.

Healthy Food Financing at HHS

Administered by the Office of Community Services (OCS) within the Administration for Children and Families at HHS, this competitive grant program for CDCs, known as the Community Economic Development-Healthy Food Financing Initiative (CED-HFFI), seeks to fund projects that increase healthy food access in low-income communities and foster self-sufficiency for low-income families by creating sustained employment opportunities in low-income communities.

Like last year, a total of $9.5 million is available, with a maximum award amount of $800,000 per project. No match is required for this grant program. Examples of OCS HFFI-funded projects include financing the construction of grocery stores, providing direct assistance to farmers, supporting urban and rural farmers markets and retail markets, expanding existing food distribution businesses, and supporting food business entrepreneurs.

Projects funded with CED-HFFI funds can be non-construction or construction projects. For non-construction projects, the grant period is 3 years. For construction projects, the grant period is 5 years. Funds can be used for costs associated with either business start-up or business expansion activities and must work to serve a food desert and create a minimum number of jobs based on a formula provided in the Funding Opportunity Announcement.

Incubator development is permitted, so long as the focus of the incubator is healthy food, demonstrates substantial and specific job creation for low-income individuals, and is located in a geographic location within the community. Funds can also be used to provide loans to identified, viable participating businesses, and/or as an equity or stock investment.

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