Healthy Food Access Portal Profiles & Research Spotlights

Learn more about successful projects and research studies advancing healthy food access in the community:

State & Local Policy Efforts

Are you working on a local or state policy effort in this state? Let us know at [email protected] or visit the Contact Us page to add to the Portal.

We encourage you to check out the following resources to learn more about or get involved with food access issues in your state:

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)

CEI helps to grow good jobs, environmentally sustainable enterprises, and shared prosperity in Maine and other rural regions by integrating financing, business and industry expertise, and policy solutions. We envision a world in which communities are economically and environmentally healthy, enabling all people, especially those with low incomes, to reach their full potential. 

CEI believes that our economy should work for everyone. As a mission-driven investor, CEI works closely with the businesses we finance and advise to address operational, workforce, and environmental challenges, while deepening our impact in key industries, such as farming, aquaculture, and food manufacturing, that can contribute to an inclusive and environmentally sustainable economy. We also provide counseling and training for individuals and families, recognizing that building assets and managing debt, as well as a good job, are key ingredients for family financial security.

CEI used CDFI-HFFI and CED-HFFI funds to support 36 transactions with 28 unique clients for a total direct investment of $5,072,429. This leveraged $25,352,276 in other sources and supported the creation or retention of 182 jobs. Most of the transactions were loans, but also include three equity investments and support for multiple Halal grocers through a specialty lending product. Deals ranged in size from $5,000 to $1,000,000, and included 12 farm deals, 7 food processing or food manufacturing deals, and 17 food retail deals. All but one transaction were in rural areas. Retail funds were used for equipment, inventory, store refreshes, acquisition, and new construction. Retail stores ranged in size from 2,500 square foot Halal groceries to 15,000 square foot full-service grocery stores.

CEI used HFFI-CED funds to support a loan fund that financed and provided workforce assistance to two Maine businesses. Each of the businesses supported by the loan fund is located in or serving a food desert or an area without access to healthy food. The businesses included a retail store and a meat processing facility. As the fund revolves, it will be available to serve additional food deserts and will provide financing and assistance to other food retail outlets, farmers, and food distribution businesses. This project created 49 full-time jobs (29 low-income individuals accessed employment), provided job-specific training resources for workers and provided funding for project management and technical assistance.  

Overall Impacts

  • Supported organic and diversified vegetable farmers and dairy farmers in diverse regions of the state;
  • Supported processing facilities that support farmers and increase availability of Maine-grown healthy foods in consumer markets, particularly in low-income rural communities;
  • Healthy General Store Initiative: Incorporated healthy foods into very rural general stores, in collaboration with The Food Trust and Healthy Acadia, a local public health agency

Source of money: HFFI CDFI-Financial Assistance Program, HFFI CED Program; Fiscal year(s): 2011, 2014

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

  • Good Tern Food Co-op, Rockland, ME, rural
    • $200,000  loan for store reset and new POS system
    • 16 jobs created or retained
    • 2,900 sq. ft. 

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

MaineStream Finance is a non-profit CDFI dedicated to economic development by providing credit, capital and financial services that are often unavailable from traditional financial institutions. They provide personal finance, home loans and business services to people in Maine who might otherwise have limited financing and credit. They are using HFFI to support projects that increase access to healthy, affordable food in communities that currently lack these options through the Healthy Foods Options program. The program supports healthy food growers, producers and small retailers serving the 17 food deserts within Penobscot, Piscataquis, Knox and Waldo counties in Maine. 

Source of money: HFFI CDFI-Financial Assistance Program; Fiscal year(s): 2014