Healthy Food Financing to Become a Reality
AGA WORK ON HEALTHY FOOD FINANCING TO BECOME A REALITY
On Wednesday, April 4th, Governor Kay Ivey awarded a total of $300,000 in grants to provide primarily low-income persons and senior citizens with improved access to healthy and fresh foods. These grants stemmed from the work of our Association, Voices for Alabama’s Children, and the Joseph S. Bruno Foundation and a Food Summit, held in November 2014 to discuss the possibility of Healthy Food Financing in Alabama and how we could use a variety of tools to bring this to our state. Through research and working with The Food Trust a report was created showing over 1,8 million Alabama residents, including nearly half a million children live in lower-income communities underserved by grocery stores.
All this pre-work served as the catalyst to SB260, the Healthy Food Financing Act, Sponsored by Senator Greg Reed, which passed in the 2015 Legislative Session, which provided the vehicle for private and public funding and was to be housed under the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs. Projects eligible for financing include construction of new grocery stores as well as store renovations, expansion and infrastructure upgrades that improve the ability and quality of fresh produce and other healthy foods. Financing can be used for site acquisition and preparation, construction and build-out costs, equipment and furnishings, workforce training and security, pre-development costs such as market studies and appraisals, energy efficiency measures and working capital for first-time inventory and start-up costs.
In 2016, we passed SJR105, the Healthy Food Financing Study Commission to report to the Legislature on the need for funding. We know that in addition to increasing families’ access to healthy foods, new and improved grocery stores can help revitalize lower-income neighborhoods by generating foot traffic and will attract complementary services such as banks, pharmacies and restaurants, thus reducing poverty and crime. It also creates and maintains local jobs through new hiring opportunities and provides upgrades and renovations that help keep stores viable, helping to retain existing jobs in local communities.
Out of the $300,000 that was awarded, $110,000 was awarded to the grocery community. Click here to see the Governor’s Press Release and the full list of winners.
Congratulations to our AGA Member Winners –
- Peoples Piggly Wiggly of Cherokee – $50,000 to renovate and upgrade equipment to reopen a grocery store. The need for the store is in response to the closing of the town’s only grocery store in 2017, requiring residents to travel about 40 miles round-trip to obtain a full-line of groceries including fruits, vegetables and meats.
- Wright’s Markets Inc. of Opelika – $60,000 to customize two vans to expand its Wright 2 U Online Shopping and Delivery program in Lee and Russell counties.
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