Federal Policy Efforts (State-specific)


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.

  • City Garden Montessori, urban
    • Creation of a Practical Life Lab/Kitchen in an existing school. The space was rehabilitated and reconfigured in order to support the new facility.
  • Dental Health Theatre, Inc. Healthworks, urban
    • 5,750 ft2 in a museum exhibit/kitchen
    • A rehabilitated space inside a museum that was turned into a farmers market exhibit and kitchen

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

State & Local Policy Efforts

Policy Efforts to Watch: Kansas City Grocery Access Task Force

Facilitated by The Food Trust and co-chaired by KC Healthy Kids and IFF, a community development financial institution, the Kansas City Grocery Access Task Force met in 2013 to develop practical solutions to support food access in the metropolitan area. The task force was composed of representatives from the grocery industry as well as from the civic, financial, and public-health sectors. The group met over the course of the year and developed nine policy recommendations to improve food access in bi-state Kansas City.  Recommendations include the need for local governments to invest in existing financing programs and create new incentives for healthy food retail development.

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