University of Wisconsin–Madison

Green for Greens: Finding Public Funding for Healthy Food Retail

Type Policy Brief or Report
Year 2012
Level County
State(s) All States
Policy Areas Children & Families, Civil Rights, Democracy & Governance, Economic Justice, Food, Health
For millions of Americans, accessing healthy food is no easy matter. In low-income communities, liquor stores and gas stations proliferate, while farmers' markets are hard to find. Nationally, 11.5 million low-income people live in low-income areas where the nearest supermarket is more than one mile away. Although areas with limited access to affordable and nutritious food (known as food deserts) have great demand for healthy food, traditional financial institutions - like regional or national banks - often are reluctant to invest in food retail development projects in these areas. At the same time, development costs are often higher in underserved urban and rural communities. Bringing healthy food to food deserts requires tenacity, ingenuity, and a significant investment of capital. Financing healthy food retail development often means combining private dollars with grants and loans from government agencies. These public resources can reduce risks associated with private capital investment in low-income communities.

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