March 10, 2023

Representatives Lee, Brown, and Evans Join with Senators Casey and Gillibrand to Introduce Legislation that Increases Access to Affordable, Healthy Food

Washington D.C. – Representative Barbara Lee (CA-12), senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, was joined by Representatives Shontel Brown (OH-11), Dwight Evans (PA-03) and Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) in introducing legislation to increase access to affordable, healthy food options in traditionally underserved areas, create and preserve quality jobs, and revitalize low-income communities. 

The Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) Reauthorization Act of 2023 would reauthorize a critical public-private partnership that combats America’s obesity epidemic by providing access to affordable, healthy, and fresh food options. HFFI provides loan and grant financing to attract grocery stores and other fresh food retailers to underserved urban, suburban, and rural areas, and renovates and expands existing stores so they can provide the healthy foods communities want and need. This legislation is being reintroduced ahead of the 2023 Farm Bill reauthorization, which comes every five years. 

Far too many low-income neighborhoods are cut off entirely from sources of healthy foods, which is no coincidence. It is a deliberate policy decision that must be addressed,” said Congresswoman Lee. “The Healthy Food Financing Initiative Reauthorization Act would provide much needed funding to grocery store and fresh food retailers in underserved communities and begin to address the problem of food deserts. HFFI funding has been proven to bring healthy, affordable food options to low-income communities, and it’s time to make it mandatory. As we begin negotiations to reauthorize the Farm Bill, I’m excited to advance this legislation alongside Reps. Brown and Evans, and with Senate partners like Senators Casey and Gillibrand, I’m confident we will be successful.”

“Access to healthy foods should not be restricted by a person's zip code.” said Congresswoman Brown. “The Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HHFI) Reauthorization Act is a proven program that ensures fresh food retailers have the resources necessary to meet the individual needs of our most vulnerable communities. It is encouraging to see the support this program has gained since its establishment, and my colleagues and I on the Agriculture Committee look forward to ensuring its continued success.”

“As a prime shaper of the Pennsylvania initiative that served as the model for this nationwide program, I’m proud to support more federal funding to bring healthy food to more communities across America,” said Congressman Dwight Evans.

“This program was first modeled off a Pennsylvania initiative that provided healthy and fresh foods to underserved communities,” said Senator Casey. “We’ve seen this program work nationwide over the past few years and I’m committed to seeing it continue so low-income Americans can continue to access healthy foods in their neighborhoods, while also creating jobs and stimulating local economies.”

“People across the country are struggling to put nutritious food on the table, which is why we must invest in the infrastructure and programs needed to end hunger and food insecurity,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “The Healthy Food Financing Initiative Reauthorization Act would provide mandatory funding for this incredibly important program, which helps develop grocery stores and non-retail food enterprises seeking to help eliminate food deserts in our communities facing systemic disadvantages to food access. No one in America should have to worry about where their next meal is coming from.”

This program aims to build a more equitable food system that supports the health and economic vibrancy of all Americans. Authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, and reauthorized by the 2018 Farm Bill, HFFI is administered by Reinvestment Fund, a Community Development Financial Institution, on behalf of USDA Rural Development. HFFI provides capacity building and financial resources to eligible healthy food retail projects and food supply chain enterprises to overcome the high costs and initial barriers to entry in underserved areas nationwide.

“Forty million Americans live in communities without easy access to healthy and affordable foods. The Healthy Food Financing Initiative continues to be a viable solution to the market gaps that result in inequitable access to resources,” said Donald Hinkle-Brown

CEO, Reinvestment Fund. “Together, we can scale the impact of HFFI by ensuring that sustainable funding is available to grow the program and ensure it can continue for the long term.”

To read the text of the bill, click here