State & Local Policy Efforts

Illinois Fresh Food Fund

In 2007 the Illinois Food Marketing Task Force, convened by Voices for Illinois Children, the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, the Illinois Food Retailers Association, and The Food Trust, met to develop recommendations to overcome the barriers to supermarket and other fresh food retail access that plagues many communities throughout the state.  This effort gave way to the Illinois Fresh Food Fund, a statewide grocery financing program designed to increase access to healthy foods in underserved communities in Illinois. This new program was one of the 10 policy recommendations put forth by the Task Force.

Governor Pat Quinn announced the launch of the new fund in 2012. The state worked with IFF, a community development financial institution (CDFI), to administer the program and provide initial funding for the initiative in the form of a $10-million grant. An additional $3 million in funding was secured by IFF through the national Healthy Food Financing Initiative.

In addition to healthy food retail, the program supports community engagement programs, including efforts to improve nutrition education, and nonprofits focused on healthy food production, distribution, access and education in underserved communities count on us for the capital solutions and real estate services they need to maintain, equip, improve, and expand their facilities. The program is modeled after the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative, the New York Healthy Food and Healthy Communities Fund, and similar programs across the country. For more information, go to the Illinois Fresh Food Fund.

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

Federal Policy Efforts (State-specific)

Chicago Community Loan Fund (CCLF) is using HFFI financing to fund a pipeline of projects that include innovative approaches to food production such as urban farms, creative additions to food processing such as business incubators, and the addition of distribution centers such as farmers markets and supermarkets in underserved areas. One project is the TurkeyChop in Chicago, Illinois, a restaurant that makes a difference in communities of color that lack healthy choices by providing leaner meat options with less fat and salt. You can find more information here.

Source of money: HFFI CDFI-Financial Assistance Program

The Emerson Park Development Corporation is using HFFI financing to create a supermarket in the Vieux Carre Shopping Plaza in a part of East Saint Louis, Illinois, that is underserved by grocery stores. The 14,535-square-foot supermarket will increase healthy food access for thousands of local and rural consumers. The project will create 24 jobs, of which 18 will be reserved for low-income individuals. These jobs will provide livable wages with benefits and career development opportunities. You can find more information here.

Source of money: HFFI CED Program

Founded in 1988 as the Illinois Facilities Fund, IFF’s vision is to provide comprehensive solutions with transformational outcomes in low-income and special needs communities throughout the Midwest. While IFF has broadened its efforts across the Midwest, we have a deep commitment to our core mission: to strengthen nonprofits and the communities they serve. IFF provides nonprofit organizations with tools and resources to help communities thrive. IFF believes that every person has the right to a good education, fresh food, health care, affordable housing and to grow up in a safe, vibrant environment regardless of income level. But across the Midwest, too many low-income communities lack the building blocks to provide these essentials.
To date, IFF’s HFFI eligible investments have resulted in the creation over 147,000 ft2 of real estate acquired and/or rehabbed in 9 USDA food deserts in IL, IA, IN, WI, and MO. IFF has developed a unique fresh food financing program to provide essential capital to support the development of retail grocery stores in low-access areas to meet a broad spectrum of financing needs for grocery store developers and operators.  In the past year, IFF has also provided HFFI financing to nonprofits, such as a school and health museum, to support these organizations efforts to promote healthy eating/fresh food through education, outreach, and programming through a demonstration kitchen and a farmers market exhibition.  IFF’s HFFI financing activities and projects have advanced broader place-based strategies including the Chicago Housing Authority’s Plan for Transformation’s Oakwood Shores redevelopment (Bronzeville Mariano’s).  Given the high rates of diet related disease and obesity in the low-income communities that IFF serves, a core element of IFF program design is to require grocers to lead and/or support local efforts to promote healthy eating and lifestyle habits.

Since 2012, IFF has closed 15 loans totaling $12.9 million, deployed $300,000 in grants, and committed $5 million in equity to support healthy food retail outlets serving food deserts. IFF has leveraged these investments with public and private sector resources yielding over $40 million in total community investment. 93% of projects were in USDA food deserts.  IFF deployed 8 loans totaling $8.4 million (65%) in IL and 4 loans totaling $2.7 million (21%) in MO.

HFFI Projects and Impacts

  • Harvest Market LLC, East St. Louis, IL
    • Acquisition and renovation of a 23,500 sq. ft. full-service grocery store
    • Total Project Costs: $5.5 million
    • Projected IFF Financing: $750,000 Construction/Permanent Loan
  • Pershing King Drive LLC, urban
    • 74,000 ft2 food retail space created
    • New grocery store created
  • IRE-Foods, Inc., urban
    • 24,000 ft2 food retail space created
    • New grocery store created
  • Pogue's Run Grocer, urban
    • 3,000 ft2  food retail space  supported
    • Pogue's Run Grocer is a community-owned grocery store specializing in fresh, local, and organically grown groceries.
  • F2F LLC, urban
    • 29,000 ft2 food retail space
    • New equipment purchased to keep a grocery store open
  • Green Street Development Group, LLC, urban
    • 17,678 ft2 food retail space rehabilitated
    • Older property rehabilitated into a new grocery store
  • K and S Investments, urban
    • 22,000 ft2 of retail space acquired and rehabilitated
    • Older property rehabilitated into a new grocery store
  • Saver's Fresh Market Roseland, LLC, urban
    • 57,431 ft2 food retail space supported
    • New necessary equipment purchased for grocery store
  • Lena's Food Market, urban
    • 16,000 ft2 food retail space rehabilitated
    • Older property rehabilitated into a new grocery store

Source of money: HFFI CDFI-Financial Assistance Program Fiscal Years 2011, 2012, 2013, 2016

The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) is a national community development financial institution (CDFI) founded in 1979 with a mission to build healthy, sustainable neighborhoods that are communities of choice: good places to work, do business, and raise children. LICS takes a holistic approach to improving community health in underserved places by promoting better housing, education and job opportunities. LISC targets work to shore up fundamental resource every neighborhood needs to keep resident well: easy access to primary health care, affordable, nutritious food and safe recreation spaces. LISC has offices in 32 cities and works with 86 rural partners serving over 2,000 counties in 44 states. 

LISC uses HFFI financing to expand healthy food options in low-supermarket access areas throughout the nation including Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, Indianapolis, and Rhode Island. We offer low-cost loans for the development of healthy food retail outlets, which have range from full-service grocery stores to farmers markets.

Projected Impacts
Mariano’s/Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, Chicago, IL, $1MM loan

  • 74,184 sq. ft. for high quality grocery operator in underserved community
  • 150 jobs during the construction phase and the new store will provide 400 permanent jobs.

Source of money: HFFI CDFI-Financial Assistance Program; Fiscal year(s): 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
Fiscal Year 2012, $3MM, Fiscal Year 2013 ,$3MM, Fiscal Year 2014, $3MM, Fiscal Year 2016, $3MM, Fiscal Year 2017, $1.5MM