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

State & Local Policy Efforts

Policy Efforts to Watch: The Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative

Despite the positive impact of the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative (see below), inequitable access to healthy food retail in the state still exists: Many lower-income communities across the commonwealth have both poor access to healthy food and high rates of diet-related death. The uneven distribution of grocery stores in Pennsylvania leaves a disproportionate number of lower-income people without access to nutritious food. This issue impacts more than 15% of the state’s population, as over 2 million Pennsylvanians, including more than 500,000 children, live in lower-income areas with limited access to a local grocery store. The Food Trust, Reinvestment Fund, Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association and other groups are undergoing efforts in Pennsylvania to call upon the state to reinvest in the FFFI.
In 2015, The Food Trust conducted a voter opinion poll to capture
Pennsylvanians’ attitudes toward improving healthy food access and investing in public-private partnerships to finance healthy food businesses. The poll found that:

  • Pennsylvania’s children should have access to fresh, healthy food: 79% of respondents believe it is important that children have healthy food access in their neighborhoods.
  • Pennsylvania should invest in healthy food financing: 70% of respondents are supportive of financial incentives that encourage businesses to open grocery stores in areas where children do not have access to healthy food.

More details about the campaign, including The Food Trust’s Pennsylvania voter opinion poll methodology,  can be found at

The Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative

The Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative (FFFI), launched in 2004, was a public-private partnership among the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Reinvestment Fund, The Food Trust, and Urban Affairs Coalition. Through the leadership of State Representative Dwight Evans, Pennsylvania invested $30 million in seed funding for the program, leading to total project costs of $190 million. FFFI approved financing for 88 projects accounting for more than $85 million in grants and loans for eligible healthy food retail businesses in underserved urban and rural communities. FFFI created or saved more than 5,000 jobs and 1.67 million square feet of commercial food retail space. FFFI ended in June 2010 when all of the state funds were deployed.

Learn more about FFFI in this four part video series:

Healthy Food Retail in Pennsylvania Today

Although the FFFI funding was expended, Reinvestment Fund continues to manage a healthy food retail revolving loan fund for Pennsylvania businesses using its own investor capital, a federal Healthy Food Financing Initiative grant from the CDFI Fund New Markets Tax Credit, and the proceeds from loans repaid by FFFI borrowers.

Reinvestment Fund's 2014 Limited Supermarket Access Study, which analyzes access to healthy foods in communities across the nation, estimated that 301,397 Philadelphia residents were living in communities with low access to healthy foods in 2005. By 2013, the number was more than halved because of FFFI and other concerted efforts. Today, 187,000 Philadelphia residents' nearest option for obtaining fresh foods is at a grocer financed by Reinvestment Fund. In all, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania experienced a 38 percent net increase in grocery stores between 2005 and 2013.

The Pennsylvania initiative continues to draw national attention for its success in improving access to fresh foods, job creation, and economic revitalization in underserved communities statewide. The program has been recognized by Harvard University, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Governors Association, and the National Conference of State Legislatures as a model for communities nationwide committed to combating obesity and improving food access. For more information on the program, go to Reinvestment Fund's Healthy Food Retail webpage.

Background and Advocacy

Creating the PA FFFI started with The Food Trust’s mapping in 2001 of neighborhoods in Philadelphia that were lower-income, had poor access to a supermarkets, and suffered from higher rates of death from diet-related disease. These findings were published in a report, Food for Every Child: The Need for More Supermarkets in Philadelphia.

The maps engaged city leadership around the issue of healthy food access and its connection to health. As a result, in 2003 The Food Trust convened the Philadelphia Food Marketing Task Force, which met to identify the barriers to healthy food retail development and come to consensus around a series of policy recommendations to overcome these barriers. The task force released a report, Stimulating Supermarket Development: A New Day for Philadelphia, specifically recommending the state develop a business financing program to support local supermarket development projects. This report, along with the leadership of Representative Dwight Evans and other key champions, led to the creation of the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative.

For more information on how to advocate for and create a state or local healthy food financing Initiative: The Healthy Food Financing Handbook: From Advocacy to Implementation.

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)

Founded in 1990, Bridgeway Capital is a CDFI that provides capital and business education to underserved markets to promote positive outcomes economically and socially, focusing specifically on small business, community service organizations, and enterprises that typically face the most difficulty in accessing conventional credit markets.  Their mission seeks to make western Pennsylvania a thriving region for all by promoting economic opportunity and community revitalization. Bridgeway Capital assists underserved populations by providing capital and education to ignite business and job growth, develop communities, support entrepreneurs and expand vital services that strengthen the region.

Bridgeway Capital uses its HFFI financing to respond to the demand for fresh fruits and vegetables by providing retailers the resources and expertise to grow projects in offering nutritious choices.  It assists stores to expand inventory to include healthy foods; renovate layout to sell healthy foods; upgrade equipment for improved stocking; upgrade displays for promotion; and learn to better manage healthy foods.

HFFI Projects & Impacts

  • Bridgeway Capital helped owners of  52nd Street Market, established in 2014 in Lawrenceville, PA, to supply fresh locally sourced food to the residents of an underserved urban area in Pittsburgh.
  • To date, Bridgeway has deployed $2.2 million in HFFI transactions across 12 borrowers. These transactions have leveraged an additional $14.7 million in funding and total nearly 590,000 square feet of new or renovated commercial space dedicated to healthy foods.
    • Butcher on Butler
    • Millvale Borough
    • Community Kitchen Pittsburgh
    • Water Sprout Farm
    • The Juice Jar
    • Health-a-licious
    • Gluten Free Goat
    • La Dorita Cooks
    • Churchview Farm
    • Juice PDLR d/b/a Reed&Co
    • Day La Soul Catering LLC
    • Safi Juice
    • Riverside Family Market
    • DeAnn Groceria
    • Economic Development South
    • 412 Food Rescue
  • Bridgeway's pipeline of potential HFFI borrowers has been growing both in number and diversity of projects. An increased focus on developing relationships with partners and referral sources has led to new conversations and access to prospective clients we would not have otherwise uncovered. For example, we have broadened partnerships with other corner store initiatives active locally in an effort to better coordinate and scale resources. Our activities to date have included a mailer sent to all Allegheny County SNAP retailers with information about our individual programs. We are also co-hosting a small business resource fair specifically for food retailers. This increased visibility has already bolstered our pipeline.
  • On the transaction level, Bridgeway has been learning from past and existing relationships with borrowers and practice partners. We have adjusted the terms of our products to increase their flexibility and better meet prospective borrowers' needs, and we have expanded our communications to reach farther and deeper into the communities we serve.
  • Created 72 jobs

Source of money: HFFI CDFI-Financial Assistance Program; Fiscal year(s): 2014, 2015

Fare & Square, a 16,000-square-foot supermarket, is the culmination of numerous attempts to attract a full-service grocery store to Chester, Pennsylvania. The store is located in an area where over 70 percent of residents live in a food desert according to data from the USDA Economic Research Service.  Reinvestment Fund and Nonprofit Finance Fund partnered to help finance Fare & Square, which is the nation’s first grocery store run by a food bank. The opening of Fare & Square created 69 full- and part-time jobs, which are filled primarily by Chester community residents. Fare & Square opened in September 2013.
HFFI Impacts

HFFI funds were used to renovate an existing building to build Fare & Square, operated by local food bank Philabundance. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program provided a $750,000 grant, which required a one-to-one match, to jumpstart the project. Philabundance tapped into its fundraising prowess and secured matching grants from individual donors and multiple private foundations. The Nonprofit Facilities Fund (NFF) and Reinvestment Fund, both community development financial institutions (CDFIs), provided New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC) to finance the project. The NMTC investor is TD Bank. In addition, NFF and Reinvestment Fund provided loans to bridge the payment of various funding commitments to the project. The federal Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) was the source of capital for Reinvestment Fund’s bridge loan.
Source of money: HFFI CDFI-Financial Assistance Program

The Fayette County Community Action Agency’s mission is to strengthen individuals and families to become more self sufficient, achieving their potential by taking advantage of opportunities, improving the conditions in which they live, and taking ownership of their community.

Fayette County Community Action Agency, Inc. is using HFFI financing to support the development of the Republic Food Enterprise Center (RFEC), a food hub located in Republic, Pennsylvania, and serving southwestern Pennsylvania. In addition to creating jobs in the food processing sector, the RFEC will coordinate with leading economic development organizations to support food-based initiatives and work to strengthen the connections between local growers, area residents, and leading commercial partners in the greater southwestern Pennsylvania region. This project intends to create up to 40 new, full-time jobs, of which 35 will be filled by low-income Fayette County residents. As part of the project, the RFEC also aims to expand six farmers markets in the region as part of this project.

Projected Impacts

  • Expand the Republic Food Enterprise Center to stimulate agricultural production, produce value-added products, distribute local produce and products, and develop retail outlets in underserved areas
  • Implement the region’s first mobile farmers markets
  • Implement the region’s first produce-to-door subscription service
  • Create (40) new jobs

Source of money: HFFI CED Program; Fiscal year(s): 2011, 2015

The Hill House Economic Development Corporation (HHEDC), a community development corporation, is completing a 36,000 sq. ft. building where the major tenant will be a full service supermarket leasing 30,000 sq. ft. in the Hill District neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The low-income, high unemployment neighborhood has been without a grocery store for more than 25 years and has been determined by our local governmental agency to be a “food desert.”
Hill House Economic Development Corporation used HFFI financing to support the completion of a 36,000-square-foot, full-service supermarket in the Hill District neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The supermarket will create 44 permanent, full-time positions and 56 part-time jobs in a high-unemployment neighborhood that has lacked a grocery store for more than 25 years. The Project leverages over $11,000,000 in funds, and it benefits from partnerships with the 1st Source Center Workforce development, East Liberty Development Corporation, Pittsburgh Community Services, Inc., Hill District Consensus Group, city county counselor, state representative, Pittsburgh Penguins, philanthropic community, city-county-state government.

Projected Impacts

  • Increase food access in Pittsburgh’s underserved Hill District
  • 30,000 sq. ft. full service supermarket in 36,000 sq. ft. commercial development
  • 44 permanent, full-time jobs and 56 part-time jobs created
  • Serve as a catalyst for nearby commercial development

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

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
ARC Property Trust/Shoppes, Wissinoming, Philadelphia, PA, $1.1MM loan

  • 110,000 sq. ft. grocery store in area with limited access to fresh food
  • 300 jobs created/preserved

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

As a leading national community development financial institution, the Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF) invests capital in low-income people and communities. Since its founding in 1984, LIIF has invested over $2.3 billion in capital, serving over 2 million people and generating over $59 billion in family and societal benefits.

LIIF is using HFFI funding to provide financing and technical assistance to food markets located in, or planning to locate in, low- to-moderate-income communities that lack access to affordable, healthy food. LIIF has funded projects in Louisiana, New York, and Pennsylvania. Some HFFI financing supported The Plaza at Chelten project, a 50,000-square-foot retail and healthy food center in Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood

  • Total amount financed for healthy food projects: $52 million
  • Total amount leveraged: $199.5 million
  • Total amount of dollars granted: $3.225 million
  • Total amount of square footage: 651,251
  • Total amount of people served: 217,084

Source of money: HFFI CDFI-Financial Assistance Program; Fiscal year(s): 2011, 2013, 2014

As one of the nation's leading community development financial institutions, Nonprofit Finance Fund® (NFF®) makes millions of dollars in loans to nonprofits and pushes for fundamental improvement in how money is given and used in the sector. Since 1980, NFF has worked to connect money to mission effectively so that nonprofits can keep doing what they do so well.
Through their 7 offices, NFF also speaks out, writes, and conducts research to help advocate for positive change nationwide. As the only national CDFI focused exclusively on nonprofits, NFF has lent over $250 million and leveraged $1.4 billion of capital investment on behalf of their clients. In partnership with others, NFF has generated $16 million for nonprofits for building reserves, cash reserves and endowments through our multiyear asset-building service, BFF. They also provided $1.2 million in loan guarantees, $10.3 million in 9/11 recovery grants, about $13 million in capital grants, and $2 million in planning grants.

HFFI Projects

  • Philabundance Fare & Square - Chester, PA
  • NFF provided $1.05 million of a total $2.25 million bridge loan, and $4.0 million NMTC allocation in 2013
  • Location: Urban
  • Type: nonprofit supermarket
  • Amount Leveraged: $1 million of private grants and program-related investment

Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) is using HFFI financing to make capital available to CDFIs focused on increasing access to affordable healthy foods in low‐income neighborhoods. By serving as an intermediary to the CDFI Fund’s capital, OFN is financing CDFIs that are ramping up their capacity to address food access issues, but are not prepared at this time to secure an HFFI‐FA award. OFN will target CDFIs seeking to finance projects in their communities that promote healthy food options, with an emphasis on mid‐tier food chain enterprises and retail outlets serving food deserts. This includes CDFIs with community facility or small business lending expertise with skills that are transferable to healthy food project lending. You can find more information here.

Source of money: HFFI CDFI-Financial Assistance Program

Note: OFN is headquartered in Pennsylvania, but supports projects nationwide.

PEC Community Development Corporation (PECCDC) strengthens West Philadelphia communities by connecting residents to needed resources, stimulating economic growth by supporting the arts and businesses along Lancaster Avenue, expanding housing and employment opportunities, providing technology education, and improving the quality of life for all residents.  A powerful catalyst for change, PECCDC builds neighborhood assets and responds directly to the needs of the community.  Their mission seeks to nurture families, strengthen neighborhoods, and drive change, committing to increase equality and opportunity throughout the community.  They provide comprehensive supportive services to  homeless women and children, revitalize the neighborhood, and advocate for social justice.  PECCDC will use CED-HFFI funds to continue their mission of strengthening families and neighborhoods in West Philadelphia.
Source of money: HFFI CED Program; Fiscal year(s): 2014

Reinvestment Fund is a national leader in improving the food landscape in low-income communities, has provided more than 200million in financing to 143 healthy food projects throughout the Mid-Atlantic—from supermarkets to corner stores and produce distribution centers. First serving as the manager and designer of the successful Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative (FFFI) in 2004, Reinvestment Fund has since developed a comprehensive approach to improving the healthy food landscape in neighborhoods, cities, and states. The approach includes flexible capital, as well as rigorous quantitative and qualitative analysis, to inform financing and measure the impact.  

Their financing helps supermarkets and other retailers of healthy foods overcome some of the higher start‐up costs associated with locating in low‐income, underserved neighborhoods. Reinvestment Fund offers our customers loans for predevelopment activities, site acquisition, construction, and flexible longer‐term debt. Reinvestment Fund is using its federal HFFI grant awards to enhance our ability to provide much-needed capital for a variety of healthy food access projects.

The Enterprise Center Community Development Corporation (TEC-CDC) is developing a complete local food system as a means to spur economic development, foster a more robust food economy, and increase the consumption of healthy food in and around the Walnut Hill community. The model for this project creates a complete food supply chain by linking previously disparate elements of the food system – production, distribution, and processing – while addressing both health and economic issues in West Philadelphia communities.
The Enterprise Center Community Development Corporation (TEC-CDC) used HFFI financing to support the Center for Culinary Enterprises (CCE) in West Philadelphia. The CCE is a $6-million, 13,000-square-foot, LEED-certified food business accelerator that serves as a hub of community health and nutrition resources. The project will create a total of 112 jobs over a three-year period. TEC-CDC is also helping develop the Philadelphia Restaurant Incubator to allow low-income entrepreneurs and mobile food truck operators to pilot and test their businesses in West Philadelphia. The Philly Restaurant Incubator will create 51 new jobs and result in the launch of at least seven new businesses. 

HFFI Projects and Projected Impacts
West Philly Foods (WPF), Philadelphia, PA

  • Encompasses TEC-CDC's Walnut Hill Community Farm, farm stand, and CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program
  • Development of the farm has turned a neighborhood vacant lot from eyesore to asset
  • Farm stand and CSA program increase access to healthy food for community members, create business opportunities for local food entrepreneurs to sell value-added products, and create jobs through our farm apprenticeship program for young adults from Philadelphia's agricultural high school

Dorrance H. Hamilton Center for Culinary Enterprises (CCE), Philadelphia, PA

  • CCE is a $6.0 million, 13,000 sq. ft. and LEED-certified food business accelerator and hub of community health and nutrition resources in West Philadelphia
  • Opened in 2012 on the site of a previously abandoned grocery store in Walnut Hill
  • Local food entrepreneurs have access to the commercial kitchen space, food storage, and technical assistance necessary to grow their businesses and create new jobs
  • Providing access to commercial kitchen space at affordable rates fills a gap in the regional food industry for food entrepreneur clients, some of whom work on developing value-added products for distribution via the WPF CSA and other local food outlets

The Philadelphia Restaurant Incubator (PRI), Philadelphia, PA

  • Allows aspiring local restaurateurs to "proof" their food business concepts in a short-term, low-risk "pop-up" restaurant setting
  • The restaurant, Common Table, will operate beginning in 2014 out of a retail space in the CCE building and feature month-long rotations of aspiring restaurateurs
  • Entrepreneurs will benefit from staffing and technical assistance, with the goal of eventually placing successful participants in permanent brick-and-mortar locations on revitalized local commercial corridors

Summary of Projected Impacts

  • 112 jobs created over 3 years
  • Collaboration with diverse group of stakeholders, community groups, and investors
  • Creation of West Philly Foods CSA with 132 shares expected by 2015
  • Support of new local restaurants in Philadelphia Restaurant Incubator though "pop-up" test space, staffing, and technical assistance

Source of money: HFFI CDFI-Financial Assistance Program; Fiscal year(s): 2012, 2013