Progressive Grocer Independent

APR 2016

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38 | Progressive Grocer Independent | April 2016 Underserved Markets Business T he term "food desert" has garnered a lot of attention since First Lady Michelle Obama vowed to bring easy access to healthy food to all neighbor- hoods in the country as part of her Let's Move campaign. USDA esti- mates that nearly 30 million Ameri- cans live in underserved communities with limited access to supermarkets or other retailers ofering healthy food oferings. Te Healthy Food Financ- ing Initiative (HFFI), funded by the U.S. Departments of the Treasury, Agriculture, and Health and Human Services, has pledged $400 million to invest in eforts to open grocery stores in these areas or ensure convenience stores and corner markets can easily ofer healthy food options. Community Economic Develop- ment Healthy Food Financing Initia- tive (CED-HFFI) grants are meant to provide technical and fnancial assistance for healthy-food ventures designed to improve access to the purchase and consumption of healthy, afordable foods as well as address the economic needs in low-income com- munities. Since HFFI was founded, 99 loans in the amount of more than $43 million have been made to 114 projects, which have created nearly 900,000 square feet of new retail space in 64 outlets. In addition to federal monies, several states, such as Ohio and Pennsylvania, have also developed funding initiatives to help local gro- cers open stores in underserved areas in their states. A common thought in the industry is that if these areas Underserved markets, both urban and rural, can offer opportunities for retailers. By Katie Martin Entering Food Deserts

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