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

Massachusetts Food Trust Program

In May 2017, the Massachusetts Food Trust Program received $1 million in Governor Charlie Baker’s capital spending plan to provide loans, grants, and technical assistance to support the development, renovation, and expansion of healthy food retailers and food enterprises in parts of the state that need them the most. In July 2017, Governor Baker signed the final FY18 budget into law, including $100,000 in administrative funds to implement the program.

Read more about the funding here.

Background and Advocacy

In 2014, the Massachusetts legislature passed a bill to establish the Massachusetts Food Trust Program, a healthy food financing program that would provide loans, grants, and technical assistance to support the development, renovation, and expansion of healthy food retailers and food enterprises in parts of the state that need them the most. This could include supermarkets, corner stores, farmers markets, and mobile markets, as well as community kitchens, greenhouses, and food distribution hubs. The measure was included in an Environmental Bond Bill and signed into law in 2014 by Governor Patrick.

The program was created in response to the recommendations of the Massachusetts Grocery Access Task Force and the advocacy of convening partners, including the Massachusetts Public Health Association, the Massachusetts Food Association, The Boston Foundation, and The Food Trust. The task force met over the course of 2012 and developed policy recommendations to support supermarkets and other fresh food retail in underserved areas across the state.

Authorizing the program marked an important milestone in the state’s commitment to improving food access in areas of need. After four years of tireless advocacy by task force members and partners across the state, in July 2016, Governor Charlie Baker signed into law the FY17 Operating Budget, which included $100,000 in dedicated funding to the Massachusetts Food Trust program and an Economic Development bond bill authorizing $6 million for the program’s capital expenses before releasing $1 million in the FY18 Capital Investment Plan in July 2017.

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)

BNHC is a non-profit community health center that was created in 1992 providing services from a mobile medical van, until the health care needs of the community led to the construction of a facility for the health center. It serves low-income, diverse, medically underserved patients.

Brockton Neighborhood Health Center is a CDC Federally Qualified Community Health Center in Brockton, Massachusetts.  We serve more than 33,000 patients and provide more than 200,000 visits annually.  Services include primary care for all ages, dental, ob/gyn, social services, mental health, substance use disorder treatment, pharmacy, and nutrition.  BNHC has a main full service site, a small primary care site at the local homeless shelter, and our newest site, which offers adult primary care and nutrition. The new site, which opened in 2015, has a teaching kitchen and is attached to Vicente's Supermarket, a Cape Verdean grocery store, and has a teaching kitchen.  Our 2 registered dieticians offer cooking classes to BNHC patients and to the public.  They also participate in shared medical/nutrition visits where a primary care provider teams up with the dietician to offer group medical visits, nutrition education, and cooking classes.  Participants in the cooking classes are also taken to the market to teach them to read labels and choose healthy foods.  BNHC collaborates with the market to promote healthy food purchases through multi-lingual signage. 
The partnership with Vincente’s Property, LLC sought to use CED-HFFI funds to develop a full-size grocery store in a 34,000 square foot facility on a site previously abandoned by a regional grocery chain. The grocery store would bring a full-range of products to consumers in the area, focusing on creating healthy food access and tapping into local suppliers. By helping to establish a grocery store targeting an ethnically diverse population, BNHC sought to successfully meet the needs of a densely populated urban community facing food desert shopping constraints. BHNC had also conducted a nutrition and healthy food access tour of the existing site in preparation for this project. This project is projected to create 40 full-time positions and leverage $13,945,000 from U.S. Treasury HFFI awardees.
Federal HFFI Program
Agency: HHS, Office of Community Services, Community Economic Development Program

Fiscal Year 2014, $800,000

Boston Community Capital and Reinvestment Fund partnered to use HFFI funding to support acquisition/predevelopment financing for Vicente Tropical Supermarket in Brockton, MA. The market primarily serves the immigrant community in Brockton and the surrounding area, and an estimated 70% of its customers are Cape Verdean and Haitian. The new store is located in a low-income tract (59% AMI) that is underserved by healthy food retail. The Brockton Community Health Center has agreed to develop an adult primary care/wellness clinic on the same site, adjacent to the new 32,000-square-foot Vicente Tropical Supermarket. The new store is projected to create 96 permanent jobs. You can find more information about BCC here and Reinvestment Fund here

Source of money: HFFI CDFI-Financial Assistance Program

Note: Reinvestment Fund is a CDFI headquartered in Pennsylvania that finances projects in Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. 

Common Capital is a non-profit organization that is committed to a thriving local economy in order to create positive social and community impacts. We align capital and other resources to community needs and opportunities. We accomplish this by providing financing and business assistance consultation to small businesses and high-impact community projects. Every dollar that Common Capital deploys is an investment in job creation, providing opportunity for low-income people, essential community services, neighborhood rejuvenation and environmental sustainability. We focus on businesses that are locally owned and that recirculate local dollars. Common Capital’s HFFI program focuses on enabling the delivery of fresh, healthy food to underserved populations and providing financing to farm enterprises to expand production and delivery to those populations.
Projected Impacts

  • Deliver farm CSA shares to four HUD housing projects that house extremely low-income residents
  • Offer local farms a financing option to get paid for CSA shares up front so they can offer CSA to low-income individuals who are unable to pay in advance for the 18-22 week delivery season

Federal HFFI Program
Agency: Treasury, CDFI Fund, Financial Assistance Program
Fiscal Year 2011, $500,000; Fiscal Year 2014, $500,000

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

  • Four projects in Boston, Northampton, and Orange communities
    • $800,000 loan to Harvest Food Co-op, Boston MA (urban), 102 jobs, launch of a third retail outlet, 9,000 sq. ft., in the Forest Hills neighborhood
    • $825,000 loan to River Valley Market, Northampton, MA (rural), 119 jobs, $2.45 million leveraged, 15,000 sq. ft., refinance of NMTC deal.
    • $20,000 loan to North Quabbin Food Co-op, Orange MA (rural), 5 jobs, $40,000 leveraged, 1,700 sq. ft., start-up of a new retail food co-op.
    • $60,000 predevelopment line of credit to Dorchester Food Co-op, Boston, MA
  • $1,819,975 of start-up and expansion financing
  • 236 jobs
  • 25,700 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

Dorchester Bay Economic Developent Corporation (DBEDC) acts to build a strong, thriving, and diverse community in Boston's Dorchester neighborhoods by working closely with neighborhoods, residents, businesses and partners to: develop & preserve home ownership and rental housing across income levels; create and sustain economic development opportunities for businesses and individuals; build community through organizing, civic engagement, and leadership development. Founded in 1979 by local civic associations to address problems of economic disinvestment, unemployment, and community tensions, DBEDC has continued to develop and preserve home ownership, create and sustain economic development opportunities, and build community through organizing and civic engagement.
HFFI Projects & Projected Impacts

  • Shared kitchen space at Bornstein & Pearl Food Production Center for rent to start-up food businesses including a frozen dessert wholesaler, a bakery, and a caterer
    • Redevelop a 2-acre site with a 35,650 sq. ft. industrial building
    • Create 6-10 rental spaces of 1,300- to 4,200-square-feet each, equipped with heating, ventilation, scrub-able surfaces, floor drains, grease traps, and separate utility services, plus shared loading docks, operated by CropCircle Kitchen
    • Create 37 full-time jobs
    • Partner with two culinary training programs that serve low-income individuals and ex-offenders facing barriers to employment

Federal HFFI Program
Agency: HHS, Office of Community Services, Community Economic Development Program

Fiscal Year 2012, $788,673

Boston Community Loan Fund (BCLF), based within the nonprofit CDFI Boston Community Capital (BCC), has a 30-year track record of creating, funding and deploying flexible financial products to fill market gaps in low-income communities in New England and the Mid-Atlantic States. BCLF provides loans to nonprofit organizations, community development corporations (CDCs) and local developers that build affordable housing and provide social and community services for underserved communities. Founded on the firm conviction that low-income communities can sustain debt, BCLF makes loans that enhance and stabilize these communities. Their loan products and services are customized to meet the needs and constraints of our borrowers, providing fast, flexible and sufficient capital at each stage of a project’s development.
Since 1985, all of BCC’s programs have invested over $1 billion in projects that provide affordable housing, good jobs, and new opportunities in low-income communities, connecting these neighborhoods to the mainstream economy. From financing a health center or a charter school, solar panels or a saw mill, a low-income family or an established developer of affordable housing, their focus remains on developing financial tools, programs and ideas that provide access to opportunity, bridge gaps rather than widen them, and offer the potential and promise to change the world.

HFFI Projects and Projected Impacts

Vicente's Tropical Supermarket

  • Acquisition/predevelopment financing, equipment financing, and NMTC leverage lending for 32,000 sq. ft. new location for Vicente's Tropical Supermarket, in Brockton, MA, bringing a vacant former supermarket building back into productive reuse
  • Increase healthy food access in a low-income, primarily Cape Verdean and Haitian community
  • Create 96 permanent jobs
  • Develop an on-site adult primary care/wellness clinic with the Brockton Community Health Center (BCHC), with plans to offered shared nutrition and healthy shopping programs

Haley House

  • Financing the acquisition and build-out of a commercial training kitchen located in a café setting
  • Provides culinary training for homeless and formerly incarcerated individuals
  • Project located in area of focused public and private support for neighborhood transformation
  • Site offers weekly pay-what-you can community meals featuring fresh local produce
  • After-school program teaches cooking, nutrition, and gardening curriculum for over 300 urban youth each year
  • Supports organization whose menu of services also includes a morning soup kitchen, elder meals, and a food pantry offering fresh produce
  • Serves over 24,000 meals a year through the soup kitchen and distributes over 65,000 meals a year through the food pantry.

Bornstein & Pearl Food Production Center

  • Transformed the former Pearl Meats Factory, which had been vacant for years
  • Located in Quincy Corridor – designated HUD CHOICE neighborhood
  • 36,000 sq. ft. new industrial food production facility
  • Supports growth of local food retailers

Crop Circle Kitchen – second site for this non-profit shared use commercial kitchen

  • 150 permanent jobs

Community Solutions

  • Rehabilitated a historic factory into a complex focused on improving neighborhood health and creating jobs via tenant microenterprises that support healthy food, improved health, and increased economic opportunity for residents
  • Located in the Northeast neighborhood of Hartford, CT
  • 64,000 sq. ft.
  • Expected to create 200 permanent positions
  • Financed a $1,000,000 predevelopment loan, including $500,000 for working capital
  • The project is a key priority for local, state and federal sources, and has secured highly competitive federal sources including Promise Zone designation.

Federal HFFI Program
Agency: Treasury, CDFI Fund, Financial Assistance Program
Fiscal Year 2013, $500,000; Fiscal Year 2014, $2,750,000; Fiscal Year 2016 $3,750,000

The Local Enterprise Assistance Fund (LEAF) is a Community Development Financial Institution established in 1983. LEAF’s mission is to provide financing for cooperatives and other social enterprises that benefit low‐income people. LEAF is a small, highly targeted national fund that provides financing to consumer food cooperatives, resident‐owned manufactured home park communities, employee‐owned businesses, and alternative staffing agencies. As an organization that lends at a national level, LEAF is also committed in deploying a high percentage of funds in Persistent Poverty Counties. LEAF is using its HFFI award to provide financing nationally to natural food cooperatives that create jobs and provide access to healthy food in rural and urban communities. LEAF is one of only three CDFIs in the nation that has focused and developed expertise in lending to the community owned grocery store market.

Federal HFFI Program
Agency: Treasury, CDFI Fund, Financial Assistance Program
Fiscal Year 2011, $500,000; Fiscal Year 2014, $400,000

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
Vicente’s Tropical Supermarket, Brockton, MA, $3,602,500 loan

  • Collaborated with two other CDFIs - The Reinvestment Fund and Boston Community Capital - to provide a total loan of $8.6 million for this $14.1 million project
  • Expanded Vicente's Tropical Supermarket to a second location – a 33,000 square foot full-service supermarket with a small café in Brockton, MA
  • Developed a 12,500 square foot primary care clinic financed by LISC’s Healthy Futures Fund. The store and health center will collaborate on nutrition education and guided shopping tours
  • 96 new permanent full-time jobs created, with a preference for local low-income residents

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

Madison Park Development Corporation (MPDC) works with low-to-moderate income Roxbury residents and their allies to achieve the physical, economic, social and cultural renaissance of Roxbury. Over the past 47 years, MPDC has created what has been hailed as a model for resident-led community development in Roxbury.
The Tropical Foods Supermarket Project’s major goals and objectives are threefold: (1) bring a desperately needed supermarket to Roxbury, MA-- a low-income neighborhood of Boston, (2) provide 46 full time permanent positions for the low-income residents of the neighborhood and (3) act as a catalyst for future commercial development in the Dudley Square commercial center. The $800,000 OSC investment is leveraging more than $8,049,009 dollars of non-OCS/CED funding for the project.

Projected Impacts

  • Expand 8,500 sq. ft. third-general Tropical Foods market into 30,000 sq. ft. supermarket in low-income Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, MA
  • Create 46 permanent jobs for low-income residents
  • Catalyze future commercial development in Dudley Square commercial center

 Federal HFFI Program: Fiscal Year 2012, $788,673

The United Teen Equality Center (UTEC), founded in 1999 and based in Lowell, was the result of an organizing movement driven by young people to develop their own teen center in response to gang violence. Today, nationally recognized as a model youth development agency, UTEC's mission and promise is to ignite and nurture the ambition of our most disconnected youth to trade violence and poverty for social and economic success.
UTEC will create several new businesses to create new jobs and contribute to community revitalization in Lowell, Massachusetts. UTEC will create a café which includes a retail sales outlet with catering and event management services and a community kitchen/food manufacturing incubator. The café builds on UTEC’s successful track record with FRESH Roots catering, which supports the local environment, promotes healthy nutritional choices, and trains young people in work, life, and culinary skills. The incubator will include UTEC’s own food processing services that focus on the development of healthy products. UTEC plans to create a minimum of five new food service businesses through the food manufacturing incubator. The project will create 37 jobs in downtown Lowell, an area in Massachusetts with high rates of poverty and unemployment. 28 of these jobs will be filled by low-income residents, specifically providing employment opportunities for young adults with past criminal backgrounds who face obstacles finding employment in the area.
The public café, food manufacturing, and incubator will also increase access to healthy, affordable food in an area that currently does not have a full-service grocery store and is surrounded by designated food desert tracts.
Federal HFFI Program
Agency: HHS, Office of Community Services, Community Economic Development Program

Fiscal Year 2013, $800,000