Philadelphia, June 1, 2022— Today, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s framework for shoring up the food supply chain and transforming the food system to be fairer, more competitive, and more resilient. USDA efforts to create more and better markets will benefit both producers and consumers, as well as address longstanding issues intensified by the pandemic.
The pandemic exposed and exacerbated the challenges of food and nutrition insecurity in this country. The USDA will invest in several programs within the framework, including programs that support new and expanded access to markets for a diversity of growers while helping consumers access healthy foods through the following investments.
This framework includes an investment of $155 million to expand America’s Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) with resources from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and other relief legislation. HFFI is administered by Reinvestment Fund on behalf of USDA Rural Development to improve access to healthy food in underserved areas. In response, Reinvestment Fund shared the following statement:
“We applaud Secretary Vilsack and the USDA for committing resources to HFFI to fully realize the vision of a national program to invest in resilient, and sustainable food retail supply chains and improve access to healthy and affordable food. The increased funding for HFFI will help scale the program in a way that begins to address the complexity of food access in communities across America, including underserved urban areas and rural communities with substantially limited food access.
The vision for an expanded HFFI includes support for local and regional healthy food financing partnerships; a national grant and loan fund; and technical assistance for food retail and food enterprise projects. Through these approaches, HFFI aims to provide capital to
- Improve access to healthy food in underserved communities;
- Create and sustain quality jobs in the food sector;
- Support BIPOC- and/or women-owned enterprises;
- Bolster local and regional food systems;
- Invest in rural economies.
HFFI has thus far received $19 million in federal appropriations since FY 2017, which has been used to establish Reinvestment Fund’s HFFI Targeted Small Grants program, an annual, national competitive grants program for food retailers and food enterprises that seek to improve access to healthy food in underserved areas through food retail. With this expansion, we look forward to working with stakeholders to fully realize the expanded vision for the HFFI program.”
photo credit: Andrew Wilkinson