COLUMBUS, Ohio, March 7, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Finance Fund Capital Corporation (FCAP) today launched the Healthy Food for Ohio (HFFO) program, a public-private partnership that will support the development of grocery stores and other fresh food retail in low-income underserved communities throughout Ohio.
The program provides financing for costs associated with land acquisition, predevelopment, construction, equipment, infrastructure, and related expenses as well as credit needs not typically filled by conventional financial institutions.
FCAP was chosen through a competitive bid process by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) to administer state seed capital allocated by the State of Ohio in the FY2016-FY2017 Biennial budget (H.B. 64).
At a Statehouse HFFO launch event, Congressman Steve Stivers said, "The partners here today have made the connections between healthy food and healthy families, and how to create economically sound, community-driven, sustainable business solutions to food access issues. I am proud that Ohio is taking a leadership role in this national effort. It will create jobs and provide more access to healthy foods, improving the lives of people in my district and across Ohio."
Rep. Ryan Smith also spoke at the event, "For too long, Ohioans living in disadvantaged communities have struggled to put healthy food on the table. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that poor nutrition from a diet high in fat and salt can result in life-threatening conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and stroke," he said. "By creating the Healthy Food Financing Initiative in the state budget and providing initial seed funding for grocery store development in underserved areas, Ohio has taken an important step toward a better quality of life for its citizens."
"HFFO will help overcome funding gaps and barriers faced by grocers and other healthy food retailers," said FCAP President and CEO Diana Turoff. "Through this model, the HFFO program aims to increase access to affordable, fresh food in underserved areas, improve the diets of Ohio residents, and spur economic development and revitalization."
Applicants for funding will be evaluated and approved on a rolling basis while funds remain available. FCAP will work with The Food Trust, a national food access organization, to review each application and determine whether each proposed project meets program goals and is financially viable. A Pre-Application will be used to determine whether the applicant aligns with HFFO's objectives by serving a low-to moderate-income, underserved community and meeting additional eligibility criteria including community support. Once a project's programmatic eligibility is determined, the applicant will receive a letter disclosing its eligibility status and, where appropriate, an invitation to apply for financing.
Healthy food retail projects will be identified through collaborative efforts among neighborhood residents, local businesses, community based organizations and various government agencies. Eligible applicants must have community support and operate in low- to moderate-income census tracts that have low levels of access to a grocery store or healthy affordable food. Retailers can include grocery chains, individual grocery stores, neighborhood stores, coops and other food projects such as farmers markets and food hubs.
"From the Ohio River to Lake Erie, we know that Ohio can make great strides in improving the health of all residents – especially those living in poverty – by expanding access to healthy, affordable foods," said ODJFS Director Cynthia Dungey. "The Healthy Food for Ohio program brings together partners from state government, the Ohio Grocers Association as well as a statewide Healthy Food Financing Task Force of leaders in public health, economic development, business, and the civic and nonprofit sectors which helped identify the need and developed recommendations to support healthy food retail development in underserved areas."
"The Ohio Grocers Association has worked diligently with FCAP, The Food Trust and the Task Force over the past two years to secure initial seed funding from the state. We are excited to begin this vital program and encourage our members to apply for HFFO funding to help improve access to healthy foods in underserved communities," said OGA President and CEO Kristin Mullins. FCAP presented HFFO program guidelines and pre-application materials to OGA members at a separate launch event today.
To learn more, or find out if a project is eligible for funding, go to www.financefund.org and click on "Healthy Food Provider."
SOURCE Finance Fund Capital Corporation