Healthy Food Access: Economic Impact

Healthy food projects and businesses improve the economic health and well-being of communities and can help to revitalize struggling business districts and neighborhoods. In addition to providing jobs across the food system, healthy food businesses also increase or stabilize home values in nearby neighborhoods, generate local tax revenues, provide workforce training and development, and promote additional spending in the local economy.

Creates and Retains Jobs

  • A large, full-service supermarket employs 150 to 200 full- and part-time employees and has weekly sales of $200,000 to $300,000.
  • From 2004 to 2010, the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative (FFFI) approved funding for 88 fresh food retail projects, resulting in more than 5,000 jobs and improving access to healthy food for more than 400,000 residents.
  • A study of six rural stores funded by the Pennsylvania FFFI found that five stores have increased employment in their communities and the sixth is run as a co-op. One store doubled its number of employees, from 48 to 100 workers.

Spurs Community Development

  • Grocery stores act as anchor development, attracting foot traffic and additional retail investment in a community.
  • Many full-service grocery stores engage in community development through local giving programs. In Portland, Oregon, the local New Seasons Market, which has created more than 2,300 local jobs since 2000 citywide, also donated over 1,040 tons of food to Oregon food banks, contributed 10 percent of after-tax profits back to local nonprofits, and volunteered over 360 hours of local community service.

Increases Property Values 

  • A study of the impacts of supermarkets in Philadelphia indicates that the opening of a supermarket leads to increased housing values in the nearby community. In one Philadelphia neighborhood, housing values saw an immediate boost, ranging from a 4 to 7 percent increase after the opening of a supermarket.

Promotes Federal Nutrition Assistance Programs

  • Grocery stores, corner stores, and farmers markets that accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) benefits bring federal dollars into communities. This, in turn, produces economic benefits for stores, and spurs broader economic stimulus across states, regions, and the nation. Specifically, every $5 in new SNAP spending generates as much as $9 of economic activity