Governor Paterson Announces First Grant Recipient for New York Healthy Food & Healthy Communities Fund

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Governor David A. Paterson today announced the first New York Healthy Food & Healthy Communities (HFHC) Fund grant recipient.

The Conklin Reliable Market is a second generation, family-run market that serves a low-to-moderate income area with few fresh food options in the Southern Tier.

The pre-development grant will enable Conklin Reliable Market to initiate plans to double the size of the existing store.

The lead fund administrator, the Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF), is currently accepting applications for the $30 million fund, which supports the development of healthy food markets in underserved communities.

“The Healthy Food & Healthy Communities Fund aims to offer healthier choices for New Yorkers and to advance the economic health of our State,” Governor Paterson said. “With capital investments from Goldman Sachs and Empire State Development, support from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, NYSHealth Foundation and the efforts of our fund partners – the Low Income Investment Fund, The Reinvestment Fund and The Food Trust, we are able to bring fresh food to the communities that need it most. This first grant will help support a family business in the Southern Tier, providing additional jobs and promoting local agriculture. It is my hope that the grant awarded to the Conklin Reliable Market is the first of many to help improve the food markets in underserved communities throughout the State.”

The HFHC Fund is an innovative financing program, established by Governor Paterson to facilitate the development of healthy food markets in underserved communities throughout New York.

The fund includes a $20 million commitment from The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. and a $10 million commitment from Empire State Development.

LIIF worked closely with its fund partners, The Food Trust and The Reinvestment Fund (TRF), to identify and vet Conklin Reliable Market for the program.

Empire State Development Chairman and CEO Dennis M. Mullen said: “Thanks to the Governor’s leadership, and all our partners- especially the fund administrators, the Low Income Investment Fund, The Reinvestment Fund and The Food Trust, we are able to get this funding out to market operators quickly. Mr. Gage’s family business, Conklin Reliable Market, is a vital part of the local economy, which is why it was important that we work with him to ensure his business thrives. There are communities all over New York that demand access to healthy foods; we look forward to continuing the momentum of this program and bringing supermarkets and fresh, healthy food to thousands in urban and rural communities who suffer from a lack of access.”

Nancy O. Andrews, President and CEO of LIIF, said: “The Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF) is thrilled to support Conklin Reliable Market. This important project will preserve and expand food access in a deeply underserved community. LIIF applauds Governor Paterson, Empire State Development and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets for their leadership to improve the health of families and communities through the New York Healthy Food & Healthy Communities Fund.”

LIIF draws on over 25 years of experience providing innovative grant and loan funds to low income communities to manage all aspects of the HFHC Fund program, including originating loans and grants and ongoing portfolio management.

Yael Lehmann, Executive Director of The Food Trust, said: “The need for improved access to healthy food in New York is considerable, and we are proud to be a partner in this innovative new program.”

John J. Gage, Owner of Conklin Reliable Market, said: “I am very grateful that New York Healthy Food & Healthy Communities Fund identified a wonderful community in need of this investment. The help we have received will make it possible to provide a wider array of services in a modern facility. My staff and I are committed to the public that supports us, and look forward to our future progress. I thank the State of New York, the Low Income Investment Fund, The Food Trust and The Reinvestment Fund.”

Mr. Gage took over Conklin Reliable Market from his father, who owned the store in its current 5,500-square-foot space since 1964.

Mr. Gage approached the HFHC Fund with plans to construct a new facility in an adjacent shopping plaza and to modernize and expand the store to 11,000 square feet.

The new store will enable Conklin Reliable Market to expand its perishable department, implement energy efficiency improvements and create a more customer-friendly store layout.

Preserving the Conklin Reliable Market will also help sustain a town center in a low growth region, support additional jobs and promote local agriculture.

In addition to the commitments from Goldman Sachs and ESD, the New York State Health Foundation is providing an additional $300,000 to cover expenses related to technical assistance and program administration.

State funding for the HFHC program was set aside by Governor Paterson in the 2009–10 State Budget.

LIIF, in partnership with TRF and The Food Trust, was selected through an RFP to administer the fund.

For more information, please visit LIIF’s website, www.liifund.org/healthyfood, to download an application or to learn more about the New York HFHC Fund.

To contact the fund administrator, email nyhealthyfood@liifund.org or call (212) 509-5509 ext. 16.