Healthy Food Access Portal Profiles & Research Spotlights

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

  • Research Spotlight: "Doubling Up" on Produce at Detroit Farmers Markets: Patterns and Correlates of Use of a Healthy Food Incentive

State & Local Policy Efforts

Policy Efforts to Watch: Michigan Healthy Food Access Campaign

The Michigan Healthy Food Access Campaign, led by the American Heart Association in partnership with Healthy Kids, Healthy Michigan and Michigan Good Food Fund (MGFF) partners, is an effort to support healthy food choices by expanding healthy food access for all residents in Michigan communities. The campaign is an innovative partnership made up of retailers, health advocates, policymakers and finance leaders across Michigan with the goal of securing a state investment in the MGFF. Funding will support food production, distribution, processing, and retail projects that expand the availability of healthy food offerings in places where access to healthy food is currently limited.

As part of this effort, the Michigan chapter of the American Heart Association, together with The Food Trust, recently released a report highlighting neighborhoods in greatest need of healthy food retail throughout the state, Food For Every Child: The Need for Healthy Food Financing in Michigan. The report found that there are over 1.8 million Michigan residents, including an estimated 300,000 children, living in lower-income communities with limited supermarket access.

On October 5th, 2015, the Michigan Healthy Food Access Campaign convened a meeting of stakeholders where campaign partners shared updates on the campaign’s progress in securing $10 million from the State of Michigan to support the MGFF. 

In December 2015, Representative Dave Pagel introduced House Bill 5180, which would create a new act, the Healthy Food Assistance Act. The act would "establish a statewide program to increase the availability of fresh and nutritious food, including fruits and vegetables, in underserved communities by providing financing for retailers to open, renovate, or expand grocery stores." Specifically, the bill would "provide funding for county-based programs to provide assistance to small food retailers to increase the availability and sales of fresh and nutritious food, including fresh produce, in low and moderate income communities."  For more information, please see the bill analysis along with other legislative documents.

In October 2016, Senator Geoffrey Hansen introduced Senate Bill 1110, using the same language as HB 5180, and it was referred to the Committee on Economic Development and International Investment.  Passage of the bill is pending. You can find a summary of the bill and more information here.

Detroit Green Grocer Project

In May 2010, the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC) launched the Green Grocer Project (formerly Fresh Food Access Initiative) to provide Detroit’s grocers with the technical assistance and funding needed to become successful, sustainable and competitive in the metro area grocery market. The Green Grocer Project acts as a clearinghouse for grocers to help navigate city bureaucracy and issues such as permitting, zoning and site selection. The program assists stores with such things as technical assistance grants; connections to partners such as community banks and vendors; and help with licensing, zoning, permits, and easements. Also part of the Green Grocer Project is the Façade Improvement Program, inviting grocers to apply for matching funds to improve the visual appearance and marketability of their full service grocery stores and their parking lots within the city of Detroit. To date, over 25 projects have secured financing and received technical assistance through the program to support both existing and new retail outlets. The program plans to assist another 5-10 of the city’s grocers through the end of 2015. The Green Grocer Project has received funding from the Kresge Foundation, Lasalle Bank (now Bank of America), Detroit Investment Fund and the City of Detroit. See the Green Grocer Project Page for more information.

Background and Advocacy: Detroit Fresh Food Access Initiative and Green Grocer Project

The Detroit Fresh Food Access Initiative was formed in October 2007 in response to the city’s unmet demand for grocery stores. Headed by the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC) with support from the Kresge Foundation, the initiative created a multi-sector taskforce that released a report in August 2008 with recommendations of ways to strengthen the overall grocery industry as a delivery mechanism for fresh and healthy foods. See the report, Detroit Fresh Food Access Initiative.

The Michigan Good Food Fund

In 2013, the Michigan Good Food Fund (MGFF) — a statewide public-private healthy food financing program — was launched to increase access to healthy food, spur economic development and create jobs. Managed by Capital Impact Partners (CIP), a nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that has been overseeing the California FreshWorks fund since 2011, MGFF will expand access to healthy food for Michigan residents in underserved areas by providing loans and business assistance to support projects across the state’s food value chain, including production, processing, aggregation, distribution and retail projects. Other core partners of the fund include Fair Food Network and the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems. The Fund is supported with a $3 million federal grant from the federal Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) as well as further financial support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, and the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation. MGFF partners are implementing the program with a focus on promoting equitable access to food jobs, business ownership, and flexible capital; sustainable environmental practices; and locally grown and regionally produced foods.

Background and Advocacy: Michigan Good Food Charter

Beginning in late 2009, the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems joined forces with the Food Bank Council of Michigan and the Michigan Food Policy Council to examine the state of Michigan’s food systems and together began work to develop specific goals that would promote equity, sustainability and a thriving economy across the state. These identified priorities were presented as the Charter’s initial recommendations at a statewide summit, held at the Lansing Center on February 2010. The culmination of all comments and feedback from advocates across the state about these recommendations resulted in the release of the Michigan Good Food Charter in June 2010. The Charter serves as a roadmap for a food system rooted in local communities of which many current efforts in Michigan have built upon. The MGFF is grounded in the goals of the Michigan Good Food Charter.

  • The Michigan Good Food Charter has become a model for statewide goal setting around the issue. Read the Charter’s outlined six goals here.

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)

Created in 1979, Arab American Chaldean Council (ACC) is a nonprofit that provides services to Middle Eastern and other communities in Southeast Michigan. Building a community of understanding, programs include education, employment and job training, behavioral health, cultural activities, and health services.  The organization’s public health initiatives provide primary healthcare services; abuse services; a teen health project which focuses on health education, promotion of healthy habits and behavior, health and wellness; and WIC programs in several locations.

ACC is using HFFI financing to develop a "Healthy Food Hub" and renovate a blighted property already owned by ACC. The building will house a healthy food distribution service and, in partnership with Detroit-based Forgotten Harvest, provide space for a three-seasons farmers' market and cottage industry incubator. In total, the renovated space funded through the project will necessitate the hiring of 7 local residents from a socio-economically distressed neighborhood.

Projected Impacts

  • Develop a “Healthy Food Hub”
  • Renovate an ACC owned property in need of development  to house a food distribution service and space for a three-season farmers’ market
  • Create (7) jobs for local residents from a distressed neighborhood

Source of money: HFFI CED Program; Fiscal year(s): 2015

Capital Impact Partners builds strong, vibrant communities for underserved people. A nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution, they deliver strategic financing, incubate new social ventures, and support capacity building to help ensure that low-to-moderate-income individuals have access to quality health care and education, healthy foods, affordable housing, and the opportunity to age independently. 

CIP has deployed over $2.5B to serve nearly 5 million people and create more than 33,000 jobs nationwide in sectors critical to vibrant communities. Capital Impact Partners is a leading nonprofit lender to food projects across the country. Their $150 million in financing has led to the development of new stores, expansion of existing stores, and innovations such as mobile markets and food hubs that scale distribution efforts. This effort creates healthier communities while spurring economic growth and job creation.

The Michigan Good Food Fund (MGFF) program which was - in part - capitalized with HFFI dollars, also offers robust technical assistance.  MGFF has fielded inquiries from over 220 food enterprises, has provided deep one-on-one technical assistance to 31 healthy food enterprises, and provided intensive 1-to-3-day boot-camp workshops to 17 businesses to help stabilize and scale operations.  Over 390 jobs have been created and retained through support of the Michigan Good Food Fund.
HFFI Projects and Impacts – Key Points & Summaries
Michigan Good Food Fund, $3MM grant, $620,000 loan commitment

  • Funded 27 loans and grants throughout the food system value chain totaling $11.3MM
  • Created over 390 jobs

Diamond Place, $42MM project

  • Will create an estimated 200 construction jobs and 150 permanent jobs from the retail tenants
  • Will result in 115 affordable housing units

FEAST, $180,000 loan
Placita Olvera, $100,000 loan, $2MM project
Zilke Vegetable Farm, $30,000 loan

DIAMOND PLACE: The $42 million Diamond Place project in Grand Rapids, Michigan will bring together more than 100 units of affordable housing plus 22,000 square feet of retail space anchored by a community grocery store. Located in a USDA designated food desert, this project will create an anchor of healthy food access for area residents, who also experience high poverty rates. Michigan Good Food Fund provided a $3,645,600 loan through Capital Impact Partners in 2017 to support this project. Other project funding partners include JPMorgan Chase Bank, Cinnaire, Mercantile Bank, Michigan Economic Development Corp., Michigan State Housing Development Authority, Opportunity Resource Fund, and the City of Grand Rapids. Diamond Place will create an estimated 200 construction jobs and 150 permanent jobs from the retail tenants. The project will also result in 115 affordable housing units. Diamond Place construction is underway and is slated for completion in summer 2018.

FEAST: This innovative project will establish a new commercial kitchen and processing center for food entrepreneurs in Southeast Michigan. Located in the town of Inkser, it will be co-owned and serve as a homebase for three established companies in the area: Marcia’s Munchies, Scotty O’Hotty, and M&R Ventures which makes Bleaf all-natural chutneys and Poplettes, a popped sorghum snack. It will also be open to other area food entrepreneurs for processing, co-packing, recipe development, and cooperative buying. Michigan Good Food Fund provided a $180,000 loan through Northern Initiatives in 2017 to purchase equipment for this new processing center. Eastern Market Corporation and Michigan State University Product Center have been core partners bringing this project together and will remain engaged supporting its success.

PLACITA OLVERA: In recent years, Grand Rapid’s Grandville Avenue has received more than $40 million in investments as part of Viva La Avenida, a collaboration between the City of Grand Rapids, Roosevelt Neighborhood Association, and Habitat for Humanity that is redesigning this city corridor. Through the transformation of an old factory building, the new Placita Olvera project aims to become a destination for the community’s primarily Hispanic residents. It will feature a brewery, multiple restaurants, a business incubator space, and an outdoor farmers market, offering residents the only fresh food retail site in the neighborhood. In January 2018, Michigan Good Food Fund provided a $100,000 loan through Northern Initiatives to support owners Javier and Pablo Olvera in phase one of this $2 million project. The loan is providing working capital and support for architectural drawings and accounting services. The Olvera’s bring years of food retail experience to this project as owners of three Hispanic grocery stores, a taqueria, and a bakery in Grand Rapids.

ZILKE VEGETABLE FARM: Vicki and Tom Zilke have been providing fresh, healthy food at affordable prices since transitioning from previous careers to full-time farming in 2009 in the wake of the recession. What started as a five-acre homestead has over the years grown into a full-fledged 60-member CSA, farm stand, and regular presence at markets across Southeast Michigan. In January 2018, Michigan Good Food Fund provided a $30,000 loan through Northern Initiatives to Zilke Vegetable Farm that is supporting the Zilkes in transiting their farm stand to a year-round retail space plus kitchen facility to begin processing fruits and vegetables. The Zilke’s newest venture will increase access to fresh produce all-year long, while creating jobs and increasing opportunities for area farmers.

Source of money: HFFI CDFI-Financial Assistance Program; Fiscal Year(s): 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016
Fiscal Year 2011, $3MM, Fiscal Year 2012, $1MM, Fiscal Year 2013, $3MM, Fiscal Year 2014 $2MM, Fiscal Year 2016, $2.4MM

Eastern Market began in the 1800s providing fresh and nutritious food throughout the Southeastern region in Michigan.  The core of its mission is based on four aspects: access, ensuring that connections with locally grown food keeps the market open all year long, with the inclusion of many community members; education, teaching people to understand the importance of homegrown and locally sourced foods, as opposed to processed products, and related health benefits of such practices; transportation, by developing the access to mobility through bike and walking paths to the market; and incubation, to include the countless entrepreneurs  by providing them the resources needed to flourish.  The overarching goal of its economic development strategy is to capitalize on the area’s attractions to create a vibrant and diverse urban district.

Eastern Market Corporation (EMC) is using HFFI financing to help establish a Green Grocer in the thriving Eastern Market food district in Detroit, MI. This destination produce venue will be devoted to providing fresh, healthy, and nutritious food from Michigan farmers and Detroit food entrepreneurs. Furthermore, it will feature products from a city-wide network of three Community Kitchens that help low-income food entrepreneurs transform their food ideas into food businesses. This project will integrate targeted workforce and entrepreneur development programs as well as multifaceted marketing, communications, education and outreach. This project will hire and train 15 low-income community residents for retail jobs and launch 18 new low-income food entrepreneurs, to create a total of 33 new jobs.

Source of money: HFFI CED Program; Fiscal year(s): 2014

As the only credit union based in Michigan, Frankenmuth Credit Union will use HFFI financing to help launch the credit union’s “Healthy Food/Healthy Michigan” revolving loan fund to strengthen the state's farm-to-table ecosystem by supporting farmers, local growers, farmers’ markets and other healthy food-related businesses. The fund will help finance the creation and expansion of farmer’s markets in areas the USDA designated as food deserts, which includes Saginaw, Genesee, Bay, Lapeer and Sanilac Counties. The loans will offer low fixed rates and flexible underwriting criteria. You can find more information here.

Source of money: HFFI CDFI-Financial Assistance Program

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
Seven Mile Foods, Detroit, MI, $773,000 loan

  • Interior improvements and reconfiguration to support expansion of fresh food offerings
  • 25 jobs created/preserved

Park Street Market/Northside Association for Community Development (NACD), Kalamazoo, MI, $650,000 loan

  • Support only full-service grocery stores in USDA food desert with 75% low-income residents
  • 30 jobs created/preserved
  • Anchor for the NACD Healthy Environments, Arts and Learning initiative

Flint Farmers Market/Uptown Reinvestment Corporation, Flint, MI, $1,000,000 loan

  • Relocation and expansion of the Flint Farmers Market to a new downtown Health and Wellness District in a food desert and a Flint LISC Strategic Investment Area
  • $6.2 million total project costs supported by a range of city, state and philanthropic partners, as well as New Market Tax Credit financing
  • Repair and expand existing facility to accommodate growing local demand for fresh food
  • Double indoor selling space from 6,000 to 14,000 square feet
  • Expand indoor vendor selling space from 31 to 45, with 40 seasonal outdoor vendors, a commercial kitchen and community seating for 200

Royal Fresh Market, Detroit, MI, $1,300,000 loan

  • Acquired 24,300 square foot full-service grocery store and made energy-efficient equipment upgrades
  • Created/preserved 10 full-time and 25 part-time jobs, many from the local neighborhood

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