PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 17, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The United States Department of Agriculture last week announced the selection of Reinvestment Fund to serve as the National Fund Manager for the Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI). The announcement, which came from Agriculture Under Secretary Lisa Mensah, is a capstone to Reinvestment Fund's decade plus efforts to bring equitable access to healthy food to communities across America.
As the National Fund Manager, Reinvestment Fund will raise private capital, provide financial and technical assistance to regional, state and local partnerships, and channel capital to fund eligible projects that will improve access to fresh, healthy foods in underserved rural areas.
"Our experience has shown how healthy food access can be an economic engine in communities, helping create much-needed jobs and spur small business growth," said Don Hinkle-Brown, President & CEO of Reinvestment Fund. "We look forward to working with the USDA and other stakeholders to strengthen local economies and make it easier for all Americans to access fresh, healthy food in their communities."
Beginning with the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative (FFFI) in 2004, Reinvestment Fund has developed a comprehensive and evidence-based approach to improving the food landscape for low-income people. Since then, it has provided more than $248 million in grants and loans to support 163 healthy food projects. Reinvestment Fund also created ReFresh in 2014, a capacity-building initiative that is composed of 19 CDFI partners, who are among the largest practitioners in healthy food financing.
"It is great to see the work we began in Pennsylvania become an enduring part of a national program to improve access to fresh, healthy food," said Congressman Dwight Evans, who as a Pennsylvania State Representative was instrumental to creating FFFI. "Congratulations to Reinvestment Fund and the USDA on this partnership that will be crucial to improving health, stimulating investment, and providing family-supporting jobs in communities across America."
Despite the progress that has been made since the introduction of the HFFI program, more than 20 million people nationwide still live with inadequate access to fresh and healthy food options, according to Reinvestment Fund's Limited Supermarket Access analysis; of those, 5 million live in rural areas. As the National Fund Manager, Reinvestment Fund will work with USDA to create the right suite of financial services to ensure that grocery stores and other food businesses can serve rural Americans with fresh and healthy food.
"With a track record that includes $108 million in financing to projects serving Appalachia communities, Reinvestment Fund brings the right combination of experience, expertise and relationships to truly prioritize access in rural communities," said Ray Daffner, Entrepreneurship Initiative Manager at the Appalachian Regional Commission. "We are pleased USDA selected Reinvestment Fund to lead this work, to bring healthy food access investments that can rebuild rural economies."
As the National Fund Manager, Reinvestment Fund is committed to building a more equitable food system that supports the health and economic vibrancy of all Americans.
Kavita Vijayan, Reinvestment Fund
SOURCE The Reinvestment Fund