State & Local Policy Efforts

In 2017, thanks to the work of advocates and legislative leadership, Alabama's Healthy Food Financing Initiative (ALHFFI) received $300,000 of seed funding from the state to fund healthy food retail projects across the state. The program is being administered by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA). Eligible projects can include grocery stores, expansion or renovation of grocery stores, installation of cold/freezer equipment in existing stores, mobile grocery vans and delivery, food banks, farmers markets, and other venues that will help to bring healthy foods to families in low income areas underserved by grocer healthy food retail. To view the program guidelines along with the funding application and instructions, click here. The application deadline for the last cycle of grant and loan funding was December 20, 2017.

In April of 2018, Governor Ivey awarded the first ever Healthy Food Financing grants in Alabama to seven recipients in areas with limited access to healthy food retail. The recipients are:

  • Africatown Community Development Corp.; Mobile, AL
  • Children of the Village Network, Inc.; Sumter, AL
  • City of Birmingham
  • Jones Valley Teaching Farm; Birmingham, AL
  • Peoples Piggly Wiggly; Cherokee, AL
  • West Alabama Food Bank; Northport, AL
  • Wright's Market Inc.; Opelika, AL

Background and Advocacy

In November 2014, VOICES for Alabama’s Children and the Alabama Grocers Association joined forces to convene the first Alabama Grocery Summit. Fifty state and community leaders in the fight against childhood obesity were brought together to understand the challenges that local grocers face and to discuss a variety of tools that state and local governments could use to address the urgent issue through expanding grocery store investments in underserved communities around the state.

Following the meeting, The Food Trust worked with VOICES for Alabama’s Children on a report, Food for Every Child: The Need for Healthy Food Financing in Alabama, which found that 1.8 million Alabamians, including nearly half a million children, live in areas with limited access to healthy food.

With strong bipartisan support, Governor Robert Bentley signed the Alabama Healthy Food Financing Act into law on June 30, 2015. The legislation created the structure for a statewide fund program, administered in partnership with the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA), to provide incentives to develop, renovate, or expand grocery stores in communities with limited access to fresh, healthy food. In 2016, VOICES for Alabama’s Children led the work to create the Alabama Healthy Food Financing Initiative Study Commission through Senate Joint Resolution 105. Under the leadership of Senator Bobby Singleton and Senator Greg Reed, the commission worked to develop a pipeline of projects and ultimately reported them to those findings and recommendations to the Alabama Legislature in 2017. Read Alabama Lieutenant Governor Ivey’s strong letter of support for the Healthy Food Financing Act before it was signed into law.

For a full understanding of Healthy Food Financing Initiatives from advocacy to implementation, see The Food Trust’s Healthy Food Financing Handbook.