PA FFFI grants available to grocers across the state
Grants are now available through the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative (PA FFFI), a program that invests in new or expanding grocery stores and other healthy food retail outlets in underserved neighborhoods of Keystone State.
Several private and public organizations are involved in the statewide initiative, which is overseen by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, administered by The Food Trust and supported by program partners Reinvestment Fund, Bridgeway Capital and Community First Fund. The PA FFFI provides grants or one-time loans to food retailers to increase the availability of healthy and affordable food for those living in underserved areas.
“We know that healthier communities create healthier economies, and research shows that developing or having a grocery store not only improves access to healthy food, but also creates jobs and spurs additional investment.” , noted Mark Edwards, CEO of The Food Trust, which is based in Philadelphia. “That’s why we’re excited to be managing a new round of funding for the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative.”
During his original run, 2004-2010, under the leadership of Philadelphia Reinvestment Fundadministration and with the support of The Food Trust, the PA FFFI funded nearly 90 projects with over $ 85 million in loans and grants. Since the program relaunched in 2018, 22 additional projects in Pennsylvania have received PA FFFI funding, with grantees ranging from large urban grocery stores to small stores in rural communities.
One-time grants of up to $ 50,000 are available for eligible projects, as well as other loans and business assistance. Past grants have contributed to pre-development costs; land assembly, including demolition and environmental remediation; development site; improving infrastructure such as renovation; new construction or adaptive reuse; purchasing equipment that improves the availability and quality of fresh produce; and innovative food access technology that makes it easier to access healthy foods from an existing or new grocery store. Program partners review applications on an ongoing basis and provide funding based on availability of funds.
Last year, Sprankle Neighborhood Market received funding for its stores in Kittanning and Saxonburg. The independent grocer also has a location in Leechburg.
“Feeding our community is the most honorable thing a grocer can strive to do,” said Doug Sprankle, owner of the Saxonburg store. “PA FFFI is the vessel that helps create this opportunity.”
Sprankle’s is a member of the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association, a statewide trade association that represents nearly 800 convenience stores, supermarkets, independent grocers, wholesalers and sellers of consumer products.
“We represent many members through PFMA who work hard to bring fresh food to low-income communities, observed Alex Baloga, president and CEO of the Wormleysburg-based business group. “These grants through the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative will help our members overcome potential financial barriers as they strive to meet the need for healthy, affordable food for their customers.”
Last year, Pennsylvania also achieved $ 10 million in grants to businesses that have worked to maintain access to fresh and healthy food throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. This subsidy comes from the State COVID-19 Relief Fund Fresh Food Initiative, which is funded through the federal Coronavirus Help, Relief and Economic Security Act, better known as the CARES Act.