New York Governor Announces Selection of LIIF and Partners for State Fresh Foods Initiative

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Program will finance food stores in underserved communities.

Governor David A. Paterson today announced the selection of the administrators for the Food Market Revolving Loan Fund, the centerpiece of his Healthy Food/Healthy Communities Initiative.

The Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF) will serve as lead Program Administrator and The Reinvestment Fund (TRF) will serve as the partnering Program Administrator.

Both were chosen through a competitive bidding process and have made a commitment to leverage at a 2-to-1 ratio the $10 million in State funding. The total $30 million fund will be used to expand access to fresh food markets for residents in underserved communities.

“Food access has negatively impacted the health of our communities and the revitalization of our neighborhoods. I am confident that with these experienced administrators, we will make significant progress in our campaign to make nutritious foods available to all New Yorkers,” Governor Paterson said. “The administrators will further our work to stimulate fresh food market development in underserved communities. I look forward to working with the Low Income Investment Fund and The Reinvestment Fund to bring good jobs, private investment, and nutritious, affordable foods to neighborhoods across State.”

“At a time when our communities – particularly those of lower-income – are witnessing an increase in the childhood obesity and related illnesses, we must focus on measures that will address our health concerns. Access to nutritious, affordable foods is critical to our overall well-being and these administrators will help us ensure that they are accessible to all,” First Lady Michelle Paige Paterson said. “The Governor and I have made the well-being of our children and of all New Yorkers a priority and, with the support LIIF and TRF, we will continue to make investments that benefit our overall well-being.”

Founded in 1984, LIIF is a national not-for-profit U.S. Department of Treasury-certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). It is headquartered in San Francisco, California, and has an office in New York City. LIIF works to alleviate poverty by providing capital and technical assistance for affordable housing, childcare, education, and other vital community development services.

Founded in 1985, TRF is a CDFI headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Its mission is to build wealth and opportunity for low-wealth people and places through the promotion of socially and environmentally responsible development. Among TRF’s largest programs is the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s $120 million Fresh Food Financing Initiative, which provides grants and loans to support the creation and expansion of supermarkets in underserved rural and urban communities throughout Pennsylvania.

Throughout the program, LIIF will process loan and grant applications, underwrite loans, administer disbursements and repayments, provide loan servicing and asset management, and provide ongoing reporting. Within the first year of the Initiative, TRF will be instrumental in creating an implementation tool kit, developing program guidelines, and conducting research, analysis and mapping. TRF will also provide ongoing training and technical assistance.

LIIF and TRF have selected The Food Trust as their partnering not-for-profit Food Access Organization. The Food Trust will be the initial point of contact for all of the Initiative’s inquiries and will be responsible for analyzing market opportunities in underserved areas, recruiting market operators and developers, explaining the fund and funding criteria, pre-qualifying applications (on non-financial criteria), and researching and evaluating program outcomes. It will also provide technical assistance with regard to operating grocery stores in low-income communities.

The Food Trust played a similar role in Pennsylvania’s Fresh Food Financing Initiative and helped spearhead the New York Supermarket Commission, a public/private partnership that released Stimulating Supermarket Development: A New Day for New York, a list of recommendations to encourage supermarket development.

Nancy O. Andrews, President and CEO of the Low Income Investment Fund, said: “LIIF is thrilled to be part of the New York State Healthy Food/Healthy Communities Initiative. Providing access to fresh, healthy food in underserved communities aligns closely with LIIF’s 25 years of work to alleviate poverty and support economic opportunity for low income people. LIIF commends Governor Paterson for his leadership in increasing access to nutritious, healthy food for underserved New Yorkers. Additionally, LIIF is excited to work with exceptional partners in The Reinvestment Fund and the Food Trust.”

Jeremy Nowak, President and CEO of The Reinvestment Fund, said: “TRF is delighted to bring experience from the successful Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative partnership to New York. With the Food Trust, we are committed to working with LIIF and the State to leverage private capital and have statewide success like we have had in supporting healthy food choices across Pennsylvania.”

Yael Lehmann, Executive Director of the Food Trust, said: “It is very difficult to eat healthy when there is no place to buy a piece of fruit in your neighborhood. This smartly-targeted initiative will bring supermarkets and fresh, healthy food to thousands in urban and rural communities who suffer from a lack of access.”

Those interested in participating in the Healthy Foods/Healthy Communities Initiative should contact Judith Kende, Director of the New York Region Low Income Investment Fund. The office is located at 350 Broadway, Suite 701, New York, NY 10013; (212) 509-5509 ext. 11;

Governor Paterson announced the creation of the Healthy Food/Healthy Communities Initiative in his 2009 State of the State address in response to rising concern over the lack of access to affordable, nutritious, fresh food in underserved communities. The innovative program, administered jointly by Empire State Development and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, provides capital in the form of grants and loans in order to increase the number of healthy food markets in underserved communities across New York State. The statewide program meets the financing needs of market operators that plan to operate in these communities and do not have access to financing through the conventional credit market.

Other incentives in the Healthy Food/Healthy Communities Initiative include:

  • Housing Finance Authority Funding Preference for Grocery Stores in New York’s All-Affordable Housing Program;
  • Mortgage Insurance Fund Low-Cost Project Insurance;
  • Department of Agriculture and Markets Matching Grants Program for Permanent Farmers Market Infrastructure; and
  • New York State Energy Research and Development Authority Funding for Energy Efficient and Sustainable Buildings.

Empire State Development Chairman and CEO designate Dennis M. Mullen said: “Governor Paterson’s Healthy Food/Healthy Communities Initiative not only ensures the availability of healthy food for underserved New Yorkers, but also supports the direct development of jobs. It will assist market operators in low-income neighborhoods who do not have the access to financing to bring nutritious foods to those in need, enhance distribution for New York State growers and create new markets and retail jobs. Working with the Low Income Investment Fund and The Reinvestment Fund we will nourish our communities and create economic development opportunities for the entire State.”

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker said: “The Governor’s Council on Food Policy found that hunger and malnutrition are still serious problems facing many New York residents in both urban and rural communities even though our farmers in New York produce an abundance of fresh and healthy food. As a partner in this program, we look forward to working with this chosen administrative team. Governor Paterson has made it a priority to increase the access of fresh and nutritious food in underserved communities throughout New York State and these three organizations have exactly what it will take to make it happen.”

Mindy A. Bockstein, Chairperson and Executive Director of the NYS Consumer Protection Board, said: “Food is the most basic of consumer goods. The lack of supermarket and food access points in certain areas of the State has adversely affected the diets and health of underserved populations, negatively impacted many household budgets and created ‘food deserts’ in urban and remote rural communities. As a member of the Governor’s Food Policy Council and the NYS Supermarket Commission, I applaud the Governor, ESD, the Department of Agriculture and Markets and our partners for implementing an innovative program to stimulate market development and give consumers better access to affordable healthy foods, thereby improving the general health and fiscal welfare of New Yorkers.”

Nicholas D’Agostino III, FIA Board Chair and Supermarket Commission Co-Chair, said: “As co-conveners of the Supermarket Commission, the Food Industry Alliance (FIA) is pleased that another portion of the Supermarket incentive program is now moving forward with the announcement of the program administrators to manage the State’s $10 million Food Market Revolving Loan Fund. We thank Governor Paterson for bringing the fund to fruition and we are hopeful that this is the beginning of a robust program to bring supermarkets to underserved communities.”

Bruce W. Both, President of United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500, said: “Governor David Paterson and First Lady Michelle Paige Paterson have shown an unwavering commitment to the health of New York State citizens. The effects of obesity, diabetes and so many other health problems caused by lack of access to healthy and affordable food has enormous consequences for our economy, our health system and the future of our children. Today’s announcement is another step down the road to better health for our communities, a journey that started with the Governor creating the Food Market Revolving Loan Fund. The 23,000 members of United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500 applaud the Governor and look forward to continuing our partnership with the administration to bring New York State good food, food jobs and good health.”

Source: GOVmonitor.