The California Endowment has announced the creation of a $200 million public-private loan fund that will support efforts to increase access to healthy and affordable food in underserved communities, spur economic development, and inspire innovation in healthy food retailing.
Announced at a special White House ceremony hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama, the California FreshWorks Fund will build on the success of the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative and is designed to align with the Obama administration's Healthy Food Financing Initiative, a $400 million effort to bring grocery stores and other healthy food retailers to underserved urban and rural communities across the country. Administered by NCB Capital Impact, the fund will provide financing to grocery stores and other food retailers and distributors in California that meet a set of guidelines aimed at moving healthy food retailing forward and prioritizing healthy choices.
The fund was launched with a $30 million mission-related investment and a $3 million grant from the California Endowment. Additional partners include NCB, Kaiser Permanente, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, U.S. Bank, Unified Grocers, the California Grocers Association, the Catholic Healthcare West Calvert Foundation, the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles, and PolicyLink.
"Every family deserves access to nutritious, healthy food near their homes, and yet more than twenty-three million Americans today don't have a grocery store nearby that sells fresh fruits and vegetables," said PolicyLink president Judith Bell. "For low-income people and communities of color — who face disproportionately high rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic health conditions — this lack of access is even more critical. Now, with programs like the FreshWorks Fund and the national Healthy Food Financing Initiative, we have tremendous possibilities for state and federal partnerships to help improve and expand this access."