This week, the 2021 grant recipients of the Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) were announced and included at least 25 cooperatives and cooperative development organizations.
HFFI is housed in the U.S. Department of Agriculture and administered by the Reinvestment Fund, a non-profit organization that provides financial and technical support to help eliminate barriers and create opportunities for economic growth. The Healthy Food Financing Initiative provides resources to improve healthy food access from distribution to retail.
USDA and the Reinvestment Fund announced awards to 134 recipients totaling $22.6 million. While the program was initially appropriated just $4 million for the 2021 cycle, the funding pool increased significantly as part of the Administration’s ongoing efforts to reduce barriers on the food supply chain.
USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development Xochitl Torres Small said these grants are part of a larger commitment to, “creating local and regional food systems that benefit all Americans, from farmers and ranchers to small businesses and families who currently have to travel a long way from home to find fresh, healthy food.”
According to the Reinvestment Fund, the 2021 HFFI grantees are located in 46 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. 45 percent of the grantees serve rural communities and 81 percent are owned or led by people of color, women, and/or native people. Cooperatives are a large percentage of the 69 percent of grant recipients that operate in the food retail sector, while other cooperatives and cooperative development organizations likewise will benefit from the program and in turn benefit their communities.
Cooperatives, Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and cooperative development organizations have been key to the HFFI’s success since its creation over ten years ago. Over the decade, HFFI has accounted for well over $1 billion in grants, creating or saving over 3,000 jobs, and making hundreds of projects possible to improve food quality, access and affordability.