STEVENS POINT, Wisc., June 13, 2022 — U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development State Director for Wisconsin Julie Lassa announced today that the Department has partnered with Reinvestment Fund to invest $195,500 to improve access to healthy foods.
“Many communities lack adequate, affordable access to fresh, healthy food and residents have to travel along way to find it,” Lassa said. “The USDA’s Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) aims to change this by building a more equitable food system to promote health and economic vibrancy in our communities. The iniative provides grants and loans to entities that offer healthy foods in communities that are underserved by grocery stores and other food retailers. Under the leadership of the Biden-Harris Administration and Ag Secretary Vilsack, the USDA is committed to creating local and regional food systems that benefit all Americans from families to farmers and small businesses.” [AUDIO RECORDING | 6,901 KB | 00:00:36]
Today’s investment is being made through the Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI), which helps bring grocery stores and other healthy food retailers to underserved urban and rural communities.
For example, HFFI funds will be used to support predevelopment work for the expansion of the Menomonie Market Food Co-op (MMFC), a community-owned grocery store founded in 1974 and located in western Wisconsin. MMFC is seeking to build an expanded grocery store in central Eau Claire, which will provide affordable staple and perishable foods to residents, and create community space for educational programming.
Today’s announcement is in coordination with the recent nationwide funding announced by USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development Xochitl Torres Small, that will support 134 projects in rural, urban and Tribal communities in 46 states, Puerto Rico and Washington D.C.
HFFI increases access to healthy foods, provides new market opportunities for farmers and ranchers, stabilizes small and independent retailers, and creates quality jobs and economic opportunity in low-income communities.
Reinvestment Fund serves as the National Fund Manager for USDA. It raises capital; provides financial and technical assistance to regional, state and local partnerships; and helps fund projects to improve access to fresh, healthy foods in underserved areas.
Today’s announcement builds on Secretary Vilsack’s announcement that USDA is committing an additional $155 million to HFFI that will also be delivered it in partnership with the Reinvestment Fund.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, promoting competition and fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.