Reinvestment Fund is committed to building a more equitable, sustainable and inclusive food system. We use capital, analytics, and expertise to increase food access, reduce food insecurity and improve opportunities for all communities to lead healthy, vibrant lives.
Building Equitable Food Systems
The food system is a complex network of interconnected activities and sectors that grow, manufacture, transport, sell, prepare and dispose of food. It encompasses a great variety of enterprises with varying capacities and financing needs. Since 2004, Reinvestment Fund has pioneered a comprehensive approach to strengthening food systems to improve access to healthy food and economic opportunity in the food sector for underserved communities. Our approach includes:
- Financing: Our financing supports enterprises that contribute to a balanced and dynamic food system that serves all Americans.
- Program Development & Management: We partner with the philanthropic community, the public sector and diverse community and industry stakeholders to design and implement programs providing targeted technical assistance and capital support to healthy food projects.
- Data & Analysis: Reinvestment Fund is committed to understanding the barriers to equitable healthy food access and building a knowledge base that helps inform solutions and target resources.
- Capacity Building: We have worked with policymakers and advocates recommending smart, sustainable ways to invest in food systems and local economies nationwide.
Food Systems Financing
Our financing supports enterprises that contribute to a balanced and dynamic food system that serves all Americans. With over $300 million invested in food projects to date, we finance projects ranging from production and retail to food banks and child nutrition. Our programs offer both capital and technical assistance opportunities targeted at helping food systems enterprises develop, grow and successfully contribute to the local economy.
Reinvestment Fund provides financing for predevelopment, construction, and permanent loans. Financing can be used to build or expand facilities, increase healthy food options, bridge capital gaps as well as purchase and install new equipment. Through the federal New Markets Tax Credit program, we have invested over $150 million to improve food access and build local food systems infrastructure.
Program Development & Management
Reinvestment Fund partners with the philanthropic community, the public sector and diverse community and industry stakeholders to design and implement programs providing targeted technical assistance and capital support to healthy food projects. Reinvestment Fund has managed various programs since launching the nation’s first healthy food financing initiative in 2004. Active programs include:
USDA Healthy Food Financing Initiative: We are the National Fund Manager for the USDA’s Healthy Food Financing Initiative that is working to improve access to healthy food in underserved areas, to create and preserve quality jobs, and to revitalize low-income communities.
New Jersey Child Nutrition Fund (NJCNF): NJCNF provides capital funding and technical assistance for federal nutrition program sponsors, sites, and meal vendors to expand the availability of fresh and nutritious food to children across the state of New Jersey.
Philadelphia Food Justice Initiative: A partnership with The Philadelphia Department of Public Health, the Philadelphia Food Justice Initiative supports community-driven projects to advance food justice.
Data and Analysis
Reinvestment Fund is also committed to understanding the barriers to equitable healthy food access and building a knowledge base that helps inform solutions and target resources. With a dozen studies on topics related to food, including access, financing mechanisms, program design, and food systems, Reinvestment Fund has produced a comprehensive body of research and gained national recognition.
Among our pioneering efforts in this sector is the Limited Supermarket Access (LSA) analysis. First developed for the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s CDFI Fund in 2010, the LSA analysis looks at such criteria as income, distance to existing stores and car ownership rates to identify places where households have inadequate and inequitable access to supermarkets. Our LSA analysis is accepted by the CDFI Fund as eligibility criteria for federally-funded healthy food lending and investments. Using this data, community stakeholders and policymakers across the country have been able to identify underserved locations, estimate demand and plan appropriate interventions. The data is accessible for free on PolicyMap.com.
Reinvestment Fund has also done studies on the gaps and opportunities in food system supply chains. We developed the Supply Chain Matrix (SCM) to better understand food production systems and identify opportunities to promote access to healthy, sustainable food at various stages in the food supply chain. We continue to develop innovative ways to assess the impact of our financing activity and to help other stakeholders enhance the results of their own food systems lending.
For over a decade, we have worked with policymakers and advocates recommending smart, sustainable ways to invest in food systems and local economies nationwide.
Partnering with PolicyLink and The Food Trust, we convene a network of stakeholders to share ideas and best practices to build robust and equitable food systems. Our partnership includes a resource portal, HealthyFoodAccess.org, that synthesizes data and information to support the successful planning and implementation of food systems policies, programs, and projects.
We also lead ReFresh, a national CDFI partnership that is expanding capacity and extending the geography served by healthy food financing programs. It includes 18 CDFI partners, both urban and rural, and most of the largest national practitioners.