The fund will release ten $100,000 awards to municipalities, CDFIs, or other qualified intermediaries who work with store owners to offer healthier choices to customers, such as fresh produce and dairy, low-sugar drinks, and healthy snacks. The capital investments will take the form of low-interest loans, with partial forgiveness of loan principal available based on performance. RFP details can be found online.
The fund is a public-private partnership loan fund created to:
increase access to healthy food in underserved communities;
spur economic development that supports healthy communities; and
inspire innovation in healthy food retailing.
The $264 million fund provides financing for grocery stores and other forms of healthy food retail and distribution by providing flexible capital to eligible applicants. Some loans can be packaged with companion grants. The fund is modeled after the successful Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative and was developed to align with the National Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) and the California Healthy Food Financing Initiative (AB 581).
One aspect of the fund is a Healthy Corner Store program. The fund is seeking to invest in intermediaries who currently manage a small market (“corner store”) conversion program, or organizations that demonstrate the ability to recruit, aggregate, capitalize, and support a pipeline of willing store owners in underserved communities.
Eligible applicants, acting as program intermediaries for multiple stores owners, may be for-profit entities (including but not limited to corporations, lending institutions, cooperatives, LLCs or partnerships), nonprofits (including, but not limited to community development corporations, community development financial institutions, university departments, public health and/or food advocacy organizations), or public entities (including but not limited to counties and cities, public health or economic development departments, school districts, business improvement districts, or other public agencies).
Applicants must demonstrate experience or interest in healthy food retailing or small business development, and capacity to successfully support corner store conversion projects in underserved areas of California.
Awardees will receive a $100,000 loan, payable in three years to the fund. Each loan carries a fixed interest rate of 3 percent, which will accrue and be paid along with loan principal at the end of the third year. Loans are full recourse to the awardee. Upon a finding of good performance, a partial loan forgiveness of $25,000 may be issued by the fund.
Applications are due on May 7. Awards will be announced on July 9. More information about the fund can be found on its website.