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Opening Near You! New Food Markets and The Healthy Food Financing Initiative

A key part of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative to combat childhood obesity, the Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) will help revitalize neighborhoods by eliminating “food deserts,” locations with limited access to affordable and nutritious food, within seven years. Food desert communities are typically served by inexpensive restaurants and convenience stores that offer little or no fresh food. A study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) found that more than 23 million Americans, including 6.5 million children, live in low-income urban and rural neighborhoods where the closest supermarket is more than one mile from their homes.

To maximize resources and expertise, HFFI will coordinate efforts in three key Departments: Treasury, USDA, and Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS’s Administration for Children and Families has already moved forward in the push to end food deserts by awarding five Community Economic Development (CED) grants totaling almost $3.5 million to support food development and retail opportunities in under-served communities, creating an estimated minimum of 175 jobs, primarily for low-income individuals. Of the FY 2011 request for the CED program, the Administration proposes to dedicate up to $20,000,000 to the Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI), which will address the lack of affordable healthy food in many urban and rural communities.

Details on the five FY 2010 grantees are as follows:

Anacostia Economic Development Corporation, Washington, DC: $800,000 awarded to re-develop the 20,000 square foot Anacostia Warehouse into the Anacostia Foods Project, a full-service grocery store located in the low-income community of Ward 8.

Brightwood Development Corporation Springfield, MA: $799,980 awarded to support the Western Puerto Rico Food and Agro Processing Center project, whose service area consists of six municipalities centered on Mayaguez, where the Western Puerto Rico Food and Agro Processing Center (FAPC) will be located.

Coastal Enterprises, Inc. Wiscasset, ME: $800,000 awarded to expand the Growing Rural Energy and Environmental Networks Revolving Loan Fund (GREEN Fund), currently supporting five small businesses.

Canaan Community Development Corporation London, KY: $800,000 awarded to support the First Choice Market Project, which will place a supermarket in the heart of Park DuValle neighborhood of Louisville, KY.

Desert Alliance for Community Empowerment, Coachella, CA: $275,000 awarded to develop a small grocery market and Laundromat.