ReFresh is a national network of practitioners engaged to improve access to healthy food across the United States, where long-standing barriers exist that make it difficult for residents to live healthier, more stable lives.
The goal of ReFresh is to share expertise and pursue opportunities so that practitioners can finance more food access projects that benefit low-income communities, improve healthy food options and contribute to economic revitalization. ReFresh is managed and administered by Reinvestment Fund.
How ReFresh Works
Public Policy: ReFresh is a network of practitioners that works to connect low-access communities to healthy food options. As a practitioners’ network, we have practical experiences that can advise policy, demonstrate successful models, and illustrate the need for better access.
Resources: ReFresh is a platform through which national, regional and local funders and investors can reach effective intermediaries that can target grants, loans and other resources directly to communities with inequitable and inadequate access to healthy food. JPMorgan Chase Foundation is its inaugural funder, but growing this network to the scale of the problem will require additional public and private funders.
Research: ReFresh offers policymakers and other stakeholders access to a comprehensive body of research and expertise on access to healthy, fresh food, particularly in low-income areas. Research areas include food access, financing mechanisms, program design, and food systems. Among the studies is the Limited Supermarket Access (LSA) analysis, a national analytic tool to identify areas with inadequate and inequitable access to healthy food.
Partnerships: ReFresh brings together organizations with a strong mission dedication to opening access to healthy food for communities across the United States. For communities that have organized around the need for better access, or for more robust local food connections, the ReFresh network includes practitioners with demonstrated experience in turning advocacy into action.
Targeted Impact Investing: Through Reinvestment Fund, or through other ReFresh practitioners, impact investors can connect to and participate in the largest national healthy food portfolio in the country. Reinvestment Fund can accept fresh food investments from both accredited and unaccredited investors.
Food Entrepreneurs: ReFresh offers a broad set of financing partners to help retailers, wholesale suppliers, cooperatives and national associations extend and grow their food businesses.
National Reach: ReFresh launched in early 2014 with four inaugural members. Today, ReFresh includes 19 CDFIs that are active from coast to coast.
Being Part of ReFresh
Reinvestment Fund has developed a technical assistance program targeted to CDFIs that are seeking to implement a healthy food financing program. This work is conducted by Reinvestment Fund staff including its executive, lending and policy teams.
Support for ReFresh members can include:
- Priority access to Reinvestment Fund’s 2014 Limited Supermarket Access (LSA) analysis; this is delivered through a custom PolicyMap widget
- A statewide LSA summary report that identifies areas of need within your target communities and an analysis of food retail market share concentration
- Assistance in developing a lending program, including capitalization, loan program priorities and parameters, and underwriting process
- Loan underwriting support services — including underwriting templates, benchmarks, and one-on-one coaching for food retail transactions