Learn more about successful projects and research studies advancing healthy food access in the community:
Federal Policy Efforts (State-specific)
Cooperative Fund of New England
The Cooperative Fund of New England (CFNE) is a community development financial institution (CDFI) founded in 1975 that uses HFFI financing to increase healthy food access in New England and eastern New York State. It combines financing and technical assistance to increase low-income consumers' access to healthy food through co-ops. Since its founding, CFNE has deployed over $51 million from social investors to make over 900 loans to new or expanding co-ops and nonprofit organizations, creating or retaining 11,800 jobs, 5,800 units of affordable housing, and thousands of business ownership opportunities. CFNE has experienced a remarkably high borrower repayment rate of over 99%, due in part to the broad community involvement required to successfully launch a cooperative.
To supplement its HFFI financing, CFNE launched its Food Cooperatives and Healthy Food Access program to help food co-ops better serve low-income communities. CFNE partners with Neighboring Food Co-op Association (a regional food co-op association), and Hunger Free Vermont (a state-wide food security organization) to document, promote, and improve food co-op healthy food access programs. This program is working with thirteen food co-ops with need-based discounts serving over 2,000 households.
CFNE has received three HFFI awards leading to over $6.2 million in loans to ten HFFI-qualified food co-ops, for their development and expansion around low-access communities throughout New England.
HFFI Projects and Impacts
Fiddleheads Food Co-op, New London, rural
- $201,143 loan; refinanced multiple debt sources
- 11 jobs
- 8,000 sq. ft. of retail space
Source of money: HFFI CED Program; Fiscal Year(s): 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017
Fiscal Year 2011, $2MM, Fiscal Year 2012, $1MM, Fiscal Year 2015, $1.25MM, Fiscal Year 2017, $1MM committed
LifeBridge Community Services
LifeBridge Community Services (LifeBridge) inspires change one person at a time—with expert, caring staff and a multi-dimensional, culturally diverse, holistic approach. LifeBridge empowers people through hands-on, comprehensive services—from counseling and emergency assistance to financial education, and basic literacy and work skills training. LifeBridge achieves results that strengthen the community they serve with a more employable and competitive workforce, empowered and educated youth, and individuals and families better able to cope with life’s challenges.
Since 1849, their mission has been to help the poorest and most vulnerable to build brighter futures. Most of the over 16,000 low-income people served in Fairfield and New Haven Counties live at or below the poverty level. They are challenged by a range of complex social, economic and health issues. Over time, the diversity of LifeBridge clients and the scope of their services has grown and changed, but their purpose has endured: to help people in crisis acquire the resources, skills and knowledge they need to achieve greater self-sufficiency and lasting change. (See back for project impacts)
HFFI Project Impacts
FreshConnections is a social enterprise of Lifebridge Community Services, Inc, located in Bridgeport, the largest city in Connecticut. The program sells fresh produce to individuals in the Greater Bridgeport community, and currently distributes a selection of fruits and vegetables 2-3 times per week at 5 rotating sites in the area, most of which are in or near Downtown, where access to fresh produce is limited. FreshConnections offers two ways to purchase: through a pop-up market where customers can buy produce by the piece or pound, and through prepaid bags of preselected fruits and vegetables. For $10, the prepaid option provides 10-12 pounds of produce, including multiple pieces of 6-7 types of fruits and vegetables each week, or 20-25 pounds for $20. In 2017, the program delivered over 25,000 pounds of produce. There are no income restrictions for purchasing produce from FreshConnections and payment is accepted through cash, credit/debit, and/or SNAP/EBT. The program also offers free cooking classes, healthy eating seminars and demonstrations, and information about nutrition. Newman's Own Foundation has generously provided us with two $25,000 grants to support our cooking classes, healthy eating seminars and demonstrations.
Based on survey results (conducted Spring 2017):
- 75% of respondents indicated that they agree with the statement "My family and I have been eating more fruits and vegetables as a result of FreshConnections." If we include the respondents who indicated they "somewhat agree" the total agree/somewhat agree reaches 96%.
- 89% of respondents self-reported that upon completion of adult/family cooking classed with FreshConnections, they have begun cooking healthier meals for themselves and their families.
- 69% of survey respondents indicated they strongly agree when asked if they would recommend the program to their colleagues, friends, and/or family. An additional 24% said they agree, bringing the total who agree or strongly agree to 93.3%.
Source of money: HFFI CED Program; Fiscal Year(s): 2015
State & Local Policy Efforts
We encourage you to check out the following resources to learn more about or get involved with food access issues in your state:
- Research Your Community: Plug in your city, ZIP code, or state into this mapping tool to better understand key health, demographic, food access, and healthy retail characteristics in your community.
- Tap Into Your Local Food System: Read how you can get involved, including connecting with your local food policy council.