Fresh Food Financing
Lack of access to affordable fresh foods is costing us dearly. Residents of food deserts (areas where it is difficult to buy fresh food) find a trip to the grocery store is anything but easy. The result? Access to fresh staples is very tough at best, and simply not an option for far too many Kansas Citians, impacting health and the economy.
- Low-income zip codes have 25 percent fewer chain supermarkets than middle-income zip codes.
- Poor access to fresh food retail results in higher rates of obesity and preventable diseases.
- Obesity related absenteeism costs $4.3 billion annually,and is associated with lower worker productivity, costing businesses an estimated $506 per worker per year.
The KC Grocery Access Task Force offers recommendations to improve access, such as fresh food financing. These initiatives can address unique challenges facing grocery store operators and developers.
Grocery retailers face unique challenges. The KC Grocery Access Task Force’s recent report, Stimulating Supermarket Development in Bi-State Kansas City, identifies several unique challenges for developing and operating grocery stores.
- State and federal economic development programs often exclude this industry.
- Federal job training programs cannot target the retail sector, leaving out grocers though their industry faces employee turnover rate costs that often outpace profits.
Fresh food financing can make the difference. It’s a policy initiative that helps put healthier foods in all communities by offering grocers financial tools tailored to address the range of barriers they face.
- Additional financing can help grocers overcome funding gaps for things such as pre-development, renovation or soft costs, such as market studies and employee training.
- Fresh food financing programs in 21 states are combining federal, state, local and philanthropic dollars to put fresh foods within reach and generating economic growth.
Grocery development can generate a virtuous cycle. Benefits of fresh food financing development can go beyond increasing access.
- Greater access to neighborhood supermarkets is associated with healthier living and lower body weight, as found in several cross sectional studies.
- Fresh food financing projects can create jobs and increase home values at rates outpacing a city’s average.
- The Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative increased access to affordable fresh food for over 400,000 residents, created 5,000 direct jobs and resulted in $190 million in total investment due to the state’s $30 million of seed funding.
- The 2013 market study produced by Collins-Note is for Truman Medical Center’s proposed grocery store at 27th Street and Troost estimates the project will create an estimated 56 new full time jobs.