from last Friday's inbox:
U.S. Reps. Allyson Schwartz (PA-13), Bob Brady (PA-1) and Chaka Fattah (PA-2) announced today that Philadelphia will receive $6 million in grants to provide underserved communities with fresh, healthy food options. The U.S. Department of Treasury announced this week that Philadelphia will receive two-$3 million grants through the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Program as part of the multi-agency Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI).
Reinforcing the CDFI Program’s commitment toward economic development in distressed and low-income communities, 12 grants totaling $25 million were awarded to institutions across the country that are focused on developing solutions for increasing access to affordable, healthy foods. In Philadelphia, the Opportunity Finance Network and the Reinvestment Fund will each receive $3 million in grants to work towards this goal.Brady, Schwartz and Fattah have long been advocates of the HFFI, which works to provide low-income urban, rural and suburban areas with access to affordable, more nutritious food choices. The trio has worked to encourage supermarkets and other fresh food retailers to open new stores or expand their fresh food offerings in these underserved communities. These efforts could lead to a dramatic reduction in the number of Americans living in “food deserts,” as well as stimulate local economic development.“By providing healthier food options in underserved areas, we can give millions of Americans the opportunity to live longer, healthier lives; save billions in health care costs; and create good-paying jobs across the country,” said Schwartz, who spearheaded the effort to create the HFFI in 2009. “With a growing epidemic of obesity and diabetes in America, particularly in children, it is imperative that families across the country have access to more nutritious food.”“This new federal healthy food initiative is the result of my colleagues Representatives Schwartz, Fattah and I working together with the White House to look for fundamental long-term solutions to the multi-layered problem of hunger and poverty,” Brady said. “This is an important and continuing collaboration for a growing and complex issue.”“These significant federal resources for two major nonprofits in our city underscore Philadelphia’s creative leadership in addressing the related challenges of hunger and obesity. These new funds will further expand access to nutritious food options for more families,” Fattah said. “More than just strengthening family health, these grants will also support neighborhood revitalization and address the acute economic challenges facing too many Philadelphia neighborhoods.”In 2009, Schwartz introduced a bipartisan resolution to recognize the need for a national program to provide an effective and economically sustainable solution to the problem of limited access to healthy foods in underserved communities.In November 2010, Schwartz introduced the Healthy Food Financing Initiative, H.R. 6462, with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) to help grocery operators overcome the hurdles of high start-up costs or limited access to credit, which prevents many grocers from opening new outlets in these areas.Because of these efforts, President Obama included funding for the HFFI in the FY 2011 budget. The HFFI is an interagency initiative involving the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. HFFI represents the federal government's first coordinated step to eliminate “food deserts” by promoting a wide range of interventions that expand the supply of and demand for nutritious foods, including increasing the distribution of agricultural products; developing and equipping grocery stores; and strengthening producer-to-consumer relationships.