The federal government, local governments and private foundations provide grants to help healthy food retailers open a store. Grants are provided to create healthy food options in low-income communities. These healthy food initiatives provide opportunities for low-income residents to get involved in producing their own food as well as stimulate the economy in these communities.
Healthy Food Financing Initiative
The Administration for Children and Families' Healthy Food Financing Initiative provides grants up to $800,000 to bring healthy food choices to low-income communities that are food deserts. The administration defines communities in which residents do not live in close proximity to affordable and healthy food retailers as a food desert. Grants are awarded to nonprofit community development corporations, faith-based and community organizations for business start-up. Funds can go toward construction, expansion and outreach or education projects. The grant fund must also go toward job creation for low-income individuals.
Community Food Projects
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Community Food Projects provides grants up to $125,000 to private and nonprofit entities. To qualify for a grant, the organization must demonstrate that it has experience in the area of community food work, job training and business development activities in low-income communities, competency to implement the project and a willingness to share information with researchers, evaluators and practitioners. The grant funding can go toward creating a farmer's market or a community garden with market stands.
States offer grants, loans and financial incentive programs for healthy food start-ups. The California Endowment in partnership with NCB Capital Impact created the the California FreshWorks Fund. Nonprofit, for-profit and cooperative organizations that serve residents in low-income communities can apply for grants up to $50,000 and loans for healthy food retailing. Eligible expenses include predevelopment, planning and design expenses, capital and real estate expenses, inventory and working capital or workforce development. New York City also has an incentive program for healthy food initiatives. The FRESH program provides tax, zoning and real estate incentives to developers seeking to construct or renovate retail space to be leased full-time to a healthy grocery store operator.
The Bowers Fund
The Cooperative Development Foundation provides funding for the Bowers Fund. The goal of the program is to strengthen the food cooperative community by providing training grants to food cooperative staff, managers and board of directors. Cooperatives are owned and operated by its consumers. Healthy food cooperative start-ups can apply for a grant to pay for business development costs, travel expenses for workshops or seminars, and to develop and implement a policy governance model. To apply for a grant, the health food store must meet the definition of a cooperative organization.
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