Healthy Food Financing Handbook: From Advocacy to Implementation

This handbook lays out a detailed approach to developing state and local policies that encourage the development of healthy food stores in underserved communities.

This handbook is a resource for advocates at public health, community and economic development organizations working to increase the availability of nutritious foods and revitalize their neighborhoods. It provides a roadmap for advocacy and implementation of a healthy food financing initiative to encourage food retail in underserved regions.

Throughout the Healthy Food Financing Handbook, case studies underscore the importance of committed leadership from diverse sectors and highlight what communities can achieve when there is a shared goal of making healthy, affordable food available to people who really need it. The handbook details four phases of advocacy and implementation:

  • preparing and informing,
  • engaging and empowering stakeholders,
  • strategizing and developing recommendations and
  • changing policy



Does it work? The proof is in the success and growth of the program. Based on the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative, an initiative designed to address both the health and economic vitality of under-resourced communities throughout the state, the program approved funding for 88 projects across the state, developing 1.67 million square feet for retail space while creating or retaining over 5,000 jobs from 2006 to 2010. More than 400,000 Pennsylvania residents have improved access to healthy food thanks to these efforts. Pennsylvania’s successful effort sparked the Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) – a joint collaboration between USDA and Health & Human Services, the program serves up grants and loans for projects that place healthy food retailers in low-income areas. Since 2010, HFFI has given funds to 47 Community Development Financial Institutions and community development corporations to finance fresh food retail projects in their regions. 

We hope that these strategies to support policy changes and the lessons provide a useful resource to make fresh and healthy foods available wherever you live.

Download the handbook




Updated 9/2014