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

State & Local Policy Efforts

Healthy Food for Ohio (HFFO) Program

The Healthy Food for Ohio (HFFO) program supports the development of new and existing grocery stores and other healthy food retail in underserved areas throughout the state. In June 2015, Governor John Kasich signed the FY 2016-17 operating budget that included a $2 million provision of seed capital to create the statewide HFFO program. Since its launch in March 2016, the program has funded eight projects, providing healthy food retailers with financing for costs associated with land acquisition, predevelopment, construction, equipment, infrastructure and related expenses. In June 2017, Governor Kasich signed the FY 2017-18 operating budget which included $200,000 for the continued implementation of the HFFO program, which is operated through the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, and administered by Finance Fund Capital Corporation, a statewide Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that has significantly leveraged public seed capital. Finance Fund is working with The Food Trust, a national food access organization, to review each application and determine whether each proposed project meets program goals. Applicants for funding are evaluated and approved on a rolling basis while funds remain available. For more information, including a program overview, program guidelines and the Pre-Application, click here.  
For more information on the launch of HFFO:

Case Studies on Projects Funded through HFFO:

Background and Advocacy

In 2014, the Ohio Regional Convergence Partnership and Finance Fund, in partnership with The Food Trust, conducted a statewide research study to identify communities in Ohio with greatest need for improved access to healthy food. Study findings translated into a mapping report, Food for Every Child: The Need for Healthy Food Financing in Ohio, which revealed that over two million Ohioans live in lower-income communities underserved by supermarkets.

This report was used as the launching point for a series of meetings of the Ohio Healthy Food Financing Task Force beginning in June 2014. The task force, comprised of key stakeholders representing leaders from state and local government, foundations, grocery businesses, corporations, hospitals, universities and nonprofit organizations, identified barriers to healthy food retail development and then came up with practical policy recommendations to overcome those barriers and support grocery stores and other healthy food retail across the state. A key recommendation of this group was the creation of an Ohio Healthy Food Financing Initiative. Learn more about the policy recommendations generated by the Ohio Healthy Food Financing task force here: Supporting Grocery Development in Ohio. As described above, the HFFO program launched in March 2016.

Finance Fund also participates in Reinvestment Fund’s ReFresh Initiative, a national network of CDFI practitioners engaged in improving access to healthy food across the United States, particularly in areas where long-standing barriers exist that make it difficult for residents to live healthier, more stable lives. Finance Fund was awarded $2 million in funding through the federal FY2015 CDFI-HFFI program, enabling its CDFI affiliate, Finance Fund Capital Corporation (FCAP), to expand its healthy food-focused financing activities through the HFFO program to help meet the unique needs of healthy food projects in underserved communities. Finance Fund was also awarded $4 million in round six of the Ohio New Markets Tax Credit (ONMTC) Program administered by the Ohio Development Services Agency. Find out more about Finance Fund's food access work here.

Additionally, the American Heart Association in Ohio has prioritized Healthy Food Financing as a key part of their policy agenda. More information on the American Heart Association efforts can be found 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)

Burten, Bell, Carr Development, Incorporated (BBC) is a non-profit neighborhood development organization founded in 1990 that serves Cleveland’s Central, Kinsman, and Garden Valley neighborhoods (Ward 5). BBC’s mission is to empower citizens and revitalize blighted and underserved communities.
BBC used HFFI financing to support The Bridgeport Market, Café & Community Kitchen (MC2) initiatives in Cleveland, Ohio. Through the development of a market, café, and community kitchen, this project will create sustainable employment and business opportunities, improve access to healthy affordable foods, and promote education. The community kitchen includes a training area for cooking classes and health literacy classes for adults and youth, as well as a facility that allows local farmers and gardeners to prepare and package food. The MC2 food hub will hire and train up to 64 low-income people from the community.
Projected Impacts

  • Created Bridgeport Café, a healthy alternative to traditional fast-food establishments that includes local sourcing, a produce market, and a mobile market
  • Created CornUcopia Place, a community kitchen to host cooking demonstrations and offer the harvest preparation facility to up to 15 neighborhood market gardeners at a time
  • Spearheaded development of Cleveland’s Urban Agriculture Innovation Zone and secured Green City Growers Hydroponic Greenhouse

Source of money: HFFI CED Program; Fiscal year(s): 2011

Cincinnati Development Fund (CDF) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit lending institution that fills a gap not covered by traditional lenders. CDF provides funding for real estate development in under-served markets in the Greater Cincinnati area. They also offer facilities and equipment funding for nonprofit organizations in our region. CDF’s mission is to drive community revitalization by providing capital access and technical assistance.

CDF continues to provide development services to support several large projects that are top priorities of the Cincinnati Fresh Food Task Force, a committee appointed by the City of Cincinnati. These include Apple Street Market, an emerging healthy foods project in the low-income LSA neighborhood of Northside; and Midpointe Crossing, a mixed-use development that includes a 60,000 to 80,000-square-foot supermarket in the food desert neighborhood of Bond Hill. Below are highlights from CDF loans representing $2.2 million in financing, including $1 million in HFFI-FA award deployment and $1.2 million in CDF direct lending:

Avondale Grocery: Will be developed in 2016 in the Avondale Town Center, a struggling, suburban-style retail strip that is being transformed into a pedestrian-oriented neighborhood center and a destination for quality retail shopping. Plans include adding a new grocery store, a neighborhood priority, having lacked a full-service grocery since Aldi left the neighborhood in 2008. The grocery is part of a larger mixed-use development that will bring other important resources, including a pharmacy, to the community. The comprehensive plan includes a 17,600 sq. ft. retail/office building, a community park and 150 units of mixed-income housing. Avondale grocery will incorporate hiring and management practices recommended by UpLift Solutions, a nonprofit expert in urban groceries. The model prioritizes hiring employees from the community where the supermarket will be located and whose members it will serve. The $300,000 loan through Healthy Food Fund (HFFI-FA) details predevelopment costs. CDF anticipates supporting the development with its New Markets Tax Credit allocation as well.
Findlay Market: Located in a low-income neighborhood and is home to approximately two dozen permanent food vendors who rent space to sell meat, fish, poultry, produce, cheese flowers and ethnic foods and draws over 1 million visitors a year. A loan of $700,000 - through Midwest Lenders Alliance, a partnership between IFF and Cincinnati Development Fund made possible, in part, through a $1.4 million grant from the JP Morgan Chase Bank/Foundation – allowed for the restoration of the kitchen, a vacant, blighted building to higher use to benefit residents and visitors alike. The kitchen enables growth of small food-related businesses, nurtures job growth, brings locally grown and manufactured food to a wider audience in Cincinnati. The kitchen is available for event rental by community groups and cooking demonstrations by the Findlay Market merchants. The project provides local food entrepreneurs with commercial-grade food preparation equipment and storage space meeting health department regulations, the main barrier to small operators. A feasibility study showed strong demand from potential food entrepreneurs and buyers as well as ancillary partners such as culinary training programs, chambers of commerce and community development organizations. This project created 3 new jobs while providing growth opportunities for culinary entrepreneurs. Synergies were created with Findlay Market as many food entrepreneurs buy ingredients from the market.
Epicurean Mercantile Co.: The development will provide a 5,700-square-foot compact urban fresh food full-service grocery market with broader choices, located in an area adjacent to two food desert tracts. This healthy foods project is part of a $24 million revitalization adjacent to the historic landmark Findlay Market. Epicurean Mercantile Co., which will be the first fresh food retailer with expanded hours in this census tract, is viewed as a welcome extension to the existing Findlay Market that will serve the needs of current low-income residents. The operators have begun working with the Community Council and local job training agencies to ensure their ability to hire qualified workers from the neighborhood. The loan of $234,000 through Cincinnati Healthy Food Fund (HFFI-FA) will be used for property acquisition and stabilization. CDF anticipates providing a loan to the operator as well.
The Community Market: Located in the Lower Price Hill area, this Market has received a loan of $642,000 through the Cincinnati Healthy Food Fund (HFFI-FA) for renovation as a larger plan to rejuvenate the low-income Lower Price Hill neighborhood. The project includes renovation and adaptive reuse of five buildings, including a church building, the former rectory and a school building built in 1847. Currently, The Community Market is the only place in Lower Price Hill where residents can attain healthy food for their families. The primary tenants of the facilities will be Education Matters and Community Matters. Education Matters provides programming to re-engage adults in education at any level, including English for Speakers of Other Languages, GED classes and a College Bridge program to support residents seeking a college education. Community Matters is engaged with non-educational activities, including the operation of the Community Market, which serves local residents and students of Education Matters. With this renovation, the Community Market became a Client Choice Food Pantry with more healthy food options. Client Choice pantries are conceptually similar to grocery stores: a full array of available goods is displayed and clients browse and “shop” for what they want and need.
Source of money: HFFI CDFI-Financial Assistance Program; Fiscal year(s): 2012

The Economic and Community Development Institute (ECDI) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit economic development organization headquartered in Columbus, Ohio with branch offices in Cleveland and Toledo. ECDI’s mission is to invest in people to create measurable and enduring social and economic change.
The Economic and Community Development Institute (ECDI) is using HFFI financing to support the Food Desert Community Outreach and Jobs Creation Program in Columbus, Ohio. The program’s goal is to increase healthy food access and generate jobs for low-income individuals by creating a revolving loan fund for food-related businesses. ECDI is also working to develop an FCI Plaza Market grocery store and a community food commissary that serves as an incubator for food-based businesses. ECDI is also working with Green City Growers of Cleveland to develop a 3.25-acre hydroponic greenhouse, which will employ 40 residents and be the largest inner-city greenhouse in the U.S.
With funding from OCS in 2012, ECDI worked with The Green City Growers of Cleveland (GCGC) in the development of the largest inner-city greenhouse in the U.S. Green City Growers had their first harvest in September, and are currently expanding to hire 40 new employees.
ECDI used its 2012 HFFI funding to provide capital, training, and technical assistance in the Greater University Circle (GUC) neighborhood. The project consists of a revolving line of credit in the amount of $350,000 and a $50,000 permanent working capital term loan for Green City Growers Cooperative (GCGC); a revolving small business loan fund of $100,000 for healthy food businesses in the GUC neighborhood, including businesses that provide services to or purchase produce from GCGC, and targeted training and technical assistance designed to help portfolio business acquire the capital they need to start or expand and create jobs. We have had over 33 unique users and have provided incubation services to 20 small businesses looking to start food-based businesses. Several of the incubated businesses are in a position to now apply for funding, thus creating additional jobs under the grant. It is anticipated by next reporting period we will have financed 5 of these businesses, which will have created an additional 10 jobs. ECDI matched HFFI funding on a one-to-one basis.

Projected Impacts

  • 304 jobs created, 49 of which are full-time jobs for low-income individuals
  • 33 unique users and 20 start-up food businesses using their capital, training, and technical assistance
  • 4,000 sq. ft. of food business incubation space created
  • Development of largest inner-city greenhouse in the country
  • Financing to open grocery stores in inner-city neighborhoods

Source of money: HFFI CED Program; Fiscal year(s): 2011, 2012

Finance Fund Capital Corporation (FCAP) is a statewide nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution to promote economic revitalization and community development by providing access to capital. 

Finance Fund Capital Corporation provides loans and investments to community-based nonprofit organizations and for-profit businesses in distressed urban and rural communities throughout the state of Ohio. Funding programs include flexible loans that support a wide range of projects such as Small Business; Healthy Food Retail; Community Facilities; and Affordable Housing. 

FCAP made its first loan in 2006 and has leveraged $92 million on an investment of $38 million to 74 borrowers. FCAP has financed 201 housing units, created 773,566 sq. ft. of commercial space and helped provide services to 9,653 people. In addition, partnerships have helped create and/or retain 3,261 direct jobs.

HFFI Projects and Impact

  • Mobile Market on the Green
    • Urban Mobile Market
    • Funds were used to purchase vehicle and fund operations for 2 years
  • Simon's Supermarket
    • Urban Supermarket
    • Partnerships: City of Euclid
    • 27,000 ft2
    • Funds were used for in-store construction and equipment
  • Hattie Larlham Food Hub
    • Urban Food Hub
    • 4,400 ft2
    • Funds were used for construction and equipment
  • Prather's IGA
    • Rural Supermarket
    • 22,000 ft2
    • Funds were used for expansion and equipment
    • Urban Planning Strategy
  • Campbell's Market
    • Rural Supermarket
    • 12,000 ft2
    • Funds used for construction and equipment
    • Urban Planning Strategy
  • The Market at St. Mark's, East Side of Cleveland
    • Urban Farmers Market
    • 2,200 ft2
    • Funds used for development and operations costs
  • Dollar Express
    • Urban Supermarket
  • Clifton Market
    • Urban Co-op
    • 29,000 ft2
  • KV Market
    • Urban Supermarket
    • 13,100 ft2
  • 11501 Buckeye Foods
    • Urban Supermarket
    • 56,000 ft2
  • 7501 Carnegie
    • Urban Food Hub
    • 60,000 ft2

All Projects have leveraged a total of $12MM on an investment of $2.55MM.

Source of money: Treasury/CDFI Fund; Fiscal year(s): 2015, 2017

Source of money: Treasury/CDFI 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
Family Food Center, Toledo, OH, $800,000 loan

  • Create a Family Food Center to build trust and social cohesion among immigrants and a predominantly African American community

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

Midtown Cleveland will use HFFI financing to implement EAT Well – MidTown Cleveland Health and Wellness Collaborative to address two key social determinants of health—access to healthy affordable food, and employment. EAT Well will create 32 employment and business opportunities while contributing to community revitalization, and providing a more sustainable quality of life. Partners include University Hospitals (UH), Sodexo, Hemingway Development, Wholesome Wave, and the Greater Cleveland Food Bank. You can find more information here.

Source of money: HFFI CED Program

St. Clair Superior Development Corporation (SCSDC) began over 30 years ago with the mission to guide neighborhood transformation for residents and businesses in the community.  Their services include community involvement, connecting community groups and resources together while providing small grants; housing services; housing development; commercial services and Technical Assistance (TA) to businesses; industrial programs that involve outreach, support services, and TA to the industrial community consisting of businesses and jobs to assist with economic development opportunities; arts and culture opportunities; an youth programs.
SCSDC is using HFFI financing to address food insecurity in its community by establishing Hub 55, a food hub, farmers market, café, and brewery. Hub 55 will improve food security and contribute to community revitalization by creating employment and business development opportunities that did not previously exist for low-income individuals. Located in a food desert in Cleveland, OH, Hub 55 will spark the essential commercial vitality that will improve Cleveland’s east side neighborhoods and help the local economy flourish. This food hub will create a distribution opportunity for food suppliers and entrepreneurs, thus simultaneously ensuring employment for low-income individuals and bring healthy food choices to low access and low-income areas.
Projected Program Outcomes:

  • 45 jobs created
  • Funds to be leveraged: $449,000

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

Saint Luke’s Foundation is dedicated to improving and transforming social and physical conditions in our Cleveland neighborhood and improving the health and well-being of individuals and families in Greater Cleveland. Our program strategy framework and $170M in assets position us to build sustainable solutions to key issues that impact our community.

For the past 30 years, Tremont West Development Corporation (TWDC), a nonprofit organization, had worked with a variety of residents, business owners, and community partners, serving the Tremont neighborhood in the City of Cleveland. This CDC serves through community building, neighborhood infrastructure improving, home maintenance and repair, and event planning and management.
TWDC is using HFFI financing to help establish a 12,600 square foot grocery store in the central Tremont neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio, a designated food desert. TWDC will provide a low-interest loan to Constantino’s Market, a family-owned and operated grocery business, for build-out and start-up costs. The project will create 30 new full-time, full-year grocery jobs.
Projected Impacts

  • Establish a new grocery store in Cleveland, Ohio
  • Provide a loan to Constantino’s Market for build-out and start-up costs
  • Create (30) new full-time, full-year jobs

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

University Circle Incorporated (UCI) is the development, service, and advocacy organization responsible for the growth of University Circle as a premier urban district in Cleveland and world-class center of innovation in healthcare, education, and arts & culture. UCI does it by reviving Cleveland’s historic Main Street and connecting it to its historic neighborhoods, connecting our local business community to our world-class institutions, and keeping the neighborhood clean, safe, and attractive for more than 3 million people who visit, learn, work, and live here each year.
UCI used HFFI financing to support a low-interest loan for the expansion of Constantino’s Market, a locally owned grocery in the University Circle neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio. The owners of Constantino’s Market worked with a certified training provider to break down barriers to employment for individuals with economic disadvantages, physical or mental disabilities, and/or a history of incarceration.
Projected Impacts

  • Funded a low-interest loan to Constantino's Market, a new grocery store in the University Circle neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio, a low-income community with limited food access, 400 Section 8 units, 215 units of market-rate housing, a major college campus, and a school of art
  • Recruited certified training provider that specializes in breaking down barriers to employment for individuals with economic disadvantages, physical or mental disabilities, and/or a history of incarceration
  • Created new full-time jobs

Source of money: HFFI CED Program; Fiscal year(s): 2011

The Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation (YNDC) is a citywide, multi-faceted neighborhood development organization launched in 2009 to catalyze strategic reinvestment in neighborhoods throughout the City of Youngstown. YNDC offers a broad range of programs to support catalytic reinvestment in neighborhoods and has been successful at leveraging over $15 million in reinvestment in Youngstown's neighborhoods over the past 5 years.
YNDC used HFFI financing to support the expansion of Roots Urban Farm and the Kitchen Incubator project in Youngstown, Ohio. Roots Urban Farm offers training in gardening, farming, and vacant land reuse to participants of all ages. The Kitchen Incubator project provides start-up businesses with facilities to create value-added food products. These projects increase the capacity of local residents to start food-based businesses. Project partners include Common Wealth Inc., Job and Family Services, the Ohio Small Business Development Center, The Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, and ACEnet. 
Projected Impacts

  • Created 29 part-time and 29 full-time positions, primarily through entrepreneur support
  • Expand local food offerings in corner stores and other retail outlets that will make fresh, affordable, nutritious food available to residents in food deserts throughout the City
  • Create entrepreneurship opportunities and train entrepreneurs for full-time employment in sustainable small businesses

Source of money: HFFI CED Program; Fiscal year(s): 2012