NEW YORK — Gov. David A. Paterson announced the availability of $30 million for the New York Healthy Food & Healthy Communities (HFHC) Fund to finance the building of food markets in underserved communities, also known as food deserts. Administered by Empire State Development, the fund includes a $20 million commitment from The Goldman Sachs Group, and a $10 million commitment from ESD.
"Today's announcement is a major step forward in ensuring the health and well-being of all New Yorkers," Paterson said. "As part of the state's broader Healthy Food/Healthy Communities Initiative, the New York Healthy Food & Healthy Communities Fund provides financing for infrastructure costs and credit needs not typically filled by conventional financial institutions. Through this unique model, the fund will increase the supply of affordable, fresh food in underserved areas, improve the diets and health outcomes of the state's residents, and spur economic development in these neighborhoods."
State funding for the HFHC program was set aside by Paterson in the 2009-10 State Budget. The Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF), in partnership with The Reinvestment Fund (TRF) and The Food Trust, was selected through an RFP to administer the fund.
Empire State Development Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dennis M. Mullen said: "Gov. Paterson created the Healthy Food/Healthy Communities Initiative in 2009 to respond to the lack of access to affordable, nutritious, fresh food in underserved communities. The governor came to ESD because our commitment doesn't start and end with businesses. Improving New York's economy includes the health and wellbeing of all New Yorkers. By working with LIIF, we are not only increasing access to healthy food in the neighborhoods that need it, we are also creating jobs and revitalizing neighborhoods."
An estimated 1.7 million New Yorkers, including 750,000 in New York City, live in neighborhoods that have limited access to stores providing healthy food options or fresh groceries. People living in these areas often shop for food at corner stores where high-sugar, high-fat food products dominate the shelves.
By providing grants and loans to encourage food retailers to increase the supply of affordable, fresh food in these areas, the Healthy Food & Healthy Communities Fund aims to offer more healthful choices to the State's residents. The initiative will create approximately 382 construction jobs and create or retain more than 3,000 direct jobs.