Grants are now available through the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative (PA FFFI), a program that investsin new or expanding grocery stores and other healthy food retail outlets in under-resourced communities throughout Pennsylvania.
Several private and public organizations have partnered for this statewide initiative, which is overseen by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, administered by The Food Trust, and supported by program partners Reinvestment Fund, Bridgeway Capital and Community First Fund. The PA FFFI offers one-time grants or loans to food retailers to increase the availability of healthy and affordable food options for residents in under-resourced communities.
"We know that healthier communities create healthier economies, and research shows that the development or presence of a grocery store not only improves access to healthy foods but also creates jobs and stimulates additional investment. That's why we're so excited to be stewarding a new round of funding for the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative,” said Mark Edwards, CEO of The Food Trust.
The PA FFFI originally operated from 2004 to 2010, under Reinvestment Fund’s administration and with support from The Food Trust, and funded nearly 90 projects with over $85 million in loans and grants approved in that period. Since the re-launch of the program in the fall of 2018, 22 additional projects in Pennsylvania have received funding from the PA FFFI, with recipients ranging from large-scale grocers in urban areas to smaller neighborhood stores in rural communities.
Sprankle’s Neighborhood Market, a PFMA member, took advantage of the funding last year, for its stores in Kittanning and Saxonburg.
"Feeding our community is the most honorable thing a grocer can strive to do. PA FFFI is the vessel that helps create that opportunity," said Doug Sprankle, owner of the Saxonburg location.
One-time grants of up to $50,000 are available for eligible projects, as well as additional loans and business assistance. In the past, grants have supported predevelopment costs; land assembly, including demolition and environmental remediation; site development; infrastructure improvement, including renovation; new construction or adaptive reuse; equipment purchases that improve the availability and quality of fresh produce; and innovative food access technology that assists the healthy food access efforts of an existing or new grocery store.
“We represent many members through PFMA who are working hard to deliver fresh food options in low-income communities. These grants through the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative will help our members overcome potential financial barriers as they work to address the need for healthy and affordable food for their customers,” said Alex Baloga, PFMA president and CEO.
For more information on eligibility and how to apply, visit thefoodtrust.org/pafffi. Program partners review applications on a rolling basis and provide financing as funds remain available.
Learn more about PA FFI and its partners by visiting thefoodtrust.org/pafffi/about.