Promoting Model Federal Policies to Improve Local Food Environments

Developing a policy agenda for the National Fresh Food Financing Initiative

Field of Work: improving local food environments and increasing access to healthy affordable food

Problem Synopsis: A 2009 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) study found that 23.5 million residents of low-income communities—8.4 percent of the U.S. population—live further than a mile from a large grocery store. The only nearby sources of food in many of these neighborhoods are corner stores or convenience stores that favor chips, soda, candy and other high-calorie, low-nutrient foods over fresh fruits and vegetables.

Synopsis of the Work: PolicyLink, in partnership with two Philadelphia-based nonprofit organizations, The Food Trust and the Reinvestment Fund, developed and promoted model federal policies to improve local food environments and increase access to healthy, affordable foods based on a model implemented in Pennsylvania.

Key Results: The Obama Administration included more than $400 million in the proposed 2011 budget for the Healthy Food Financing Initiative. It was conceived as a public/private loan and grant program and informed by the model policies developed by PolicyLink and their partners. PolicyLink staff also expanded the existing body of research on access to healthy foods, conducted outreach to a broad network of public and private stakeholders, and informed policymakers in the White House, Congress, and federal agencies about opportunities to bring healthy food to underserved communities.

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