What We Do: With Healthy Food Financing

The Food Trust contributes to the expansion and development of healthy food retail outlets in under-resourced communities by supporting Healthy Food Financing Initiatives (HFFIs) in various regions throughout the United States.

The Issue

Millions of Americans live in communities without access to a supermarket or other healthy food retail.This problem impacts residents of urban and rural areas alike, especially those living in lower-income and minority communities.The built environment is deeply intertwined with the social determinants of health, and communities without a strong healthy food infrastructure also experience lower levels of employment, higher rates of food insecurity, higher transportation costs, higher rates of diet-related disease and a range of other challenges.

What are Healthy Food Financing Initiatives?

Healthy Food Financing Initiatives (HFFIs) are public-private financing programs that invest in new or expanding grocery stores and other healthy food retail outlets in under-resourced communities throughout the United States. HFFIs provide one-time grants and loans, as well as technical assistance, to food retailers to increase access to healthy, affordable food options and to improve economic development opportunities. Healthy food retailers supported by HFFIs not only promote equitable access to healthy food by offering opportunities to purchase nutritious foods, but they also serve as economic anchors for further commercial revitalization, creating local jobs, generating tax revenues, and capturing local dollars within the community, among other economic and community development outcomes. 

The Food Trust’s Involvement

In 2001, The Food Trust published a report that mapped food access in Philadelphia and found that lower-income communities also had lowest supermarket access and the highest rates of diet-related deaths. The report spurred City Council hearings and ultimately led to the creation of the Food Marketing Task Force, a group of representatives from different sectors, who came together to identify challenges to operating supermarkets in under-resourced areas and propose policy recommendations to address these challenges.

From this task force originated the first Healthy Food Financing Initiative, the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative, an innovative grants and loan program created to encourage fresh food retail development in under-resourced areas. The program, funded by the PA Department of Community and Economic Development and implemented by The Food Trust and Reinvestment Fund, served as a framework for other HFFI programs across the country. To learn more about the history of the program, click here. 

Today, The Food Trust works with partners across the country to develop and implement programs that offer financing and technical support to grocery stores and other healthy food retail in under-resourced neighborhoods, including:

The Food Trust also supports partners implementing or applying for the two HFFI programs at the Federal Level:


Everyone Deserves Access Video

Everyone Deserves Access

Nearly 30 million Americans lack access to healthy, affordable food. See their stories and their efforts to improve food access in these videos.

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Healthy Food For Every Family: How The Food Trust Can Help You Implement a Healthy Food Financing Initiative

Targeted advocacy efforts are leading to state and local policy changes that encourage the development of supermarkets and other healthy food retail in lower-income, underserved communities. The Food Trust has a phased approach to developing and advancing state and local policies that address the challenges associated with grocery retail development.

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Access to Healthy Food and Why It Matters

A new joint report by The Food Trust and PolicyLink provides an up-to-date review of the research. Three years since our 2010 report, The Grocery Gap: Who Has Access to Healthy Food and Why It Matters, the large volume of new research demonstrates that improving healthy food access in low-income communities and communities of color continues to be an urgent need.

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The Healthy Food Financing Handbook: From Advocacy to Implementation

This handbook is a resource for advocates at public health and community and economic development organizations working to increase the availability of nutritious foods and revitalize their neighborhoods. It provides a roadmap for advocacy and implementation of a healthy food financing initiative to encourage food retail in underserved regions.


Healthy Food Access Portal

This website highlights and supports communities across the country seeking to launch healthy food retail projects and provides resources to serve the community members and policymakers working to improve access to healthy food retail.

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The Grocery Gap: Who Has Access to Healthy Food and Why It Matters

This literature review is a bibliography of studies of healthy food access and its impacts – 132 studies conducted in the United States in the past 20 years, including three nationwide analyses and geographically focused reports covering 22 states. For more recent research see the Access to Healthy Food and Why It Matters report.


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