Governor Paterson Announces Launch of New York Healthy Food & Healthy Communities Fund

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Governor David A. Paterson today announced the availability of $30 million for the New York Healthy Food & Healthy Communities (HFHC) Fund to finance the building of food markets in underserved communities. Administered by Empire State Development (ESD), the fund includes a $20 million commitment from The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. and a $10 million commitment from ESD.

“Today’s announcement is a major step forward in ensuring the health and well-being of all New Yorkers,” Governor Paterson said. “As part of the State’s broader Healthy Food/Healthy Communities Initiative, the New York Healthy Food & Healthy Communities Fund provides financing for infrastructure costs and credit needs not typically filled by conventional financial institutions. Through this unique model, the fund will increase the supply of affordable, fresh food in underserved areas, improve the diets and health outcomes of the State’s residents, and spur economic development in these neighborhoods.”

In addition to the commitments from The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. and ESD, the New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth) 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. The Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF), in partnership with The Reinvestment Fund (TRF) and The Food Trust, was selected through an RFP to administer the fund.

Empire State Development Chairman & CEO Dennis M. Mullen said: “Governor Paterson created the Healthy Food/Healthy Communities Initiative in 2009 to respond to the lack of access to affordable, nutritious, fresh food in underserved communities. The Governor came to ESD because our commitment doesn’t start and end with businesses. Improving New York’s economy includes the health and wellbeing of all New Yorkers. By working with LIIF, we are not only increasing access to healthy food in the neighborhoods that need it, we are also creating jobs and revitalizing neighborhoods.”

An estimated 1.7 million New Yorkers, including 750,000 in New York City, live in neighborhoods that have limited access to stores providing healthy food options or fresh groceries. People living in these areas often shop for food at corner stores where high-sugar, high-fat food products dominate the shelves. By providing grants and loans to encourage food retailers to increase the supply of affordable, fresh food in these areas, the Healthy Food & Healthy Communities Fund aims to offer more healthful choices to the State’s residents. The initiative will create approximately 382 construction jobs and create or retain more than 3,000 direct jobs.

LIIF, the lead fund administrator, will draw on its 25 years of experience providing innovative grant and loan funds to low income communities to manage all aspects of this program, including originating loans and grants and ongoing portfolio management. TRF is the partnering administrator and is working with LIIF to build the HFHC Fund and underwrite loans. TRF has also provided LIIF with customized data analysis to help estimate the severity of the food access problem in New York and identify underserved areas across the State. The Food Trust, a nationally recognized nonprofit food access organization, will lead outreach efforts and evaluate applications for eligibility. Grants will range from $5,000 to $500,000 and loans from $250,000 to $5 million and higher for New Markets Tax Credit transactions. Fund participants can use the capital for predevelopment, acquisition, or construction activities, or as a term loan. Additionally, LIIF and its partners will work with borrowers to further leverage the fund’s loans to attract additional capital.

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.

The following statements were provided in support of the public-private partnership to expand grocery stores in underserved neighborhoods:

Lloyd C. Blankfein, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs, said: “As part of our broader focus on partnering with Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), we are very pleased to help increase access to healthier food for underserved communities. This effort goes hand-inhand with our investments in job creation, entrepreneurship, and affordable housing.”

Nancy O. Andrews, LIIF’s President and CEO, said: “The Low Income Investment Fund is excited to get to work helping bring fresh food to underserved people now that the New York Health Food & Healthy Communities Fund is launched. Thanks to Governor Paterson’s leadership, capital investments from Goldman Sachs and Empire State Development, and support from NYSHealth Foundation, LIIF and our partners will provide thousands of New Yorkers access to healthy food.”

Don Hinkle-Brown, President of Community Investments and Capital Markets at TRF, said: “Our experience in Pennsylvania has shown that a strong private-public partnership and a data framework is critical to creating an effective food access initiative. We applaud Goldman Sachs and Empire State Development for their investment and leadership in this effort to bring affordable foods and jobs to underserved communities across New York.”

Yael Lehmann, The Food Trust Executive Director, said: “The New York Healthy Food & Healthy Communities Fund recognizes how important it is that everyone has access to affordable, nutritious food. We are thrilled to be working with Empire State Development, the Low Income Investment Fund, and The Reinvestment Fund to bring healthy food to families throughout New York.”

James R. Knickman, Ph.D., President and CEO of the New York State Health Foundation, said: “Ensuring access to affordable, nutritious foods is essential to keeping New Yorkers healthy, reducing obesity, and preventing the onset of illnesses like diabetes. We’re so pleased to support a partnership that will yield tremendous health benefits for our State.”