September 24, 2019, Philadelphia—The Philadelphia Department of Public Health has announced the launch of the Philadelphia Food Justice Initiative, an exciting new program in partnership with the Reinvestment Fund to support community-driven projects to advance food justice. As part of the launch, the initiative announced the selection of six projects for a total of $180,000 in funding support.
The awardees will use the funding to support a variety of endeavors including urban farming, cooking classes, and start-up enterprises. They include:
Dr. Cheryl Bettigole, director of the Health Department’s Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention division, said, “We know that people make decisions about what to eat and what food to buy for their families within the constraints of what is geographically accessible to them, and that unhealthy foods are disproportionately marketed in our low-income neighborhoods. We are encouraged by the strong response of local businesses and nonprofits toward undoing this historic and structural injustice by responding to our call for food justice projects and grateful to the Reinvestment Fund for their partnership on this project.”
The initiative received over 100 ideas to an open call in February 2019 seeking proposals from organizations, businesses, and collectives that wanted to build food justice in Philadelphia. This first-ever opportunity sought to identify fresh ideas as well as existing solutions that have historically not benefited from public health investments.
Reinvestment Fund was chosen as a partner on this initiative because of the organization’s combination of a local Philadelphia presence and nationally recognized expertise and experience in fresh food financing, technical assistance, and business analysis and support.
“Philadelphia has always been a laboratory for innovation. It is here that we began our food work and honed our expertise as we built what has become a national model on comprehensive efforts to close the gap on inequitable food access,” said Don Hinkle-Brown, President and CEO of Reinvestment Fund. “With this initiative, we are delighted to join the City in building an innovative approach to supporting inclusive food systems and growing an equitable food economy.”
Awardees were selected by a committee drawn from public and private partners. Preference was given to proposals from community-based and/or people of color-led organizations that aim to serve the community’s needs. The committee selected projects that were deeply-rooted in a neighborhood, focused on systems change, and/or had had the potential to be scaled citywide.
This initiative extends PDPH’s multi-prong efforts to identify and support local and healthy food-based entrepreneurship. Other initiatives include the Healthy Food Business Program, in partnership with the Commerce Department, good food purchasing by City agencies and local hospitals, and new healthy food manufacturing with Drexel University’s Food Lab.
About Reinvestment Fund
Reinvestment Fund is a catalyst for change in underserved communities. We integrate data, policy and strategic investments to improve the quality of life in underserved neighborhoods. Using analytical and financial tools, we bring high-quality grocery stores, affordable housing, schools and health centers to the communities that need better access—creating anchors that attract investment over the long term and help families lead healthier, more productive lives.