Saturday, November 23, 2013

Finding Financial Support for Selling Healthy Food in American Food Deserts

Financial support (that means for private, for-profit businesspeople) of healthy food in what are referred to as "food deserts" is getting easier.  Food deserts are places in inner city and rural America where it's hard to find fresh, healthy food.  The Healthy Food Access Portal doesn't have a complete list of sources, but rather has identified a number of strategies that private businesses can use to find tax breaks, loan sources and partnerships that can make it possible to expand healthy food markets into the inner city or remote rural areas.  It does have a heading called Find Money, but direct grants are largely for nonprofits rather than for-profits.

A good source of strategic information is under "retail strategy," in which several types of retail outlets are discussed, which ones work in different settings, and how to develop each one.  They have several examples of successful retail outlets, and how they created them.

The best bet for private, for-profit businesses is to form partnerships with nonprofits who have an interest in developing sustainable business in underserved areas.  The Find Money part of the website identifies a few of these but not all possible partners.  A more complete strategy is found in the website Green for Greens: Finding Public Financing for Healthy Food Retail.  It does have a good list of federal grant programs, but if you look at the eligibility, most are for nonprofits.  The useful part of the publication is the strategy: identify players in your community that can help you, and make your case to them to partner with you in creating more healthy food retail outlets.  These people include business development offices in your state and local government, but also community development finance agencies, public and private, in your area, for loan money. You need to make your case to them, and tell them how your business can fit in with their plans for the community.  Once you form useful partnerships, these eligible partners can apply for grants and help you get loan money and tax incentives to make retail food sales in food deserts possible. 


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