The South Carolina Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) received $250,000 from the S.C. General Assembly during the 2016 legislative session. The S.C. Food Access Task Force, led by South Carolina Community Loan Fund, has been working since 2012 to secure funding for a HFFI in South Carolina in order to increase access to healthy food in food desert communities throughout the state.

HFFI is a public-private partnership which will support local farmers and businesses by providing access to loans to support the establishment, renovation, and expansion of food projects in underserved communities including farmers’ markets, grocery stores, mobile markets, and small food stores. “Enabling residents in underserved communities to have access to healthy food can have tremendous benefits for them and the community as a whole,” explained Anna Hamilton Lewin, Chief Executive Officer of South Carolina Community Loan Fund.

South Carolina ranks 42nd nationally in public health and leads the nation in most of the negative health indices, including cardiovascular and respiratory disease, obesity, diabetes, infant mortality and access to affordable health care. Among the challenges facing low-wealth communities is access to fresh, healthy food. Yet, the problem goes beyond health; poor communities are often cut off from the economic development opportunities that are presented from having a local grocery store.

“Securing this funding means that we can impact more communities in need of investment,” Lewin said. “The funding will allow us to invest in projects that spur economic development, create jobs, and help reduce high obesity rates that result from the lack of healthy affordable food options.”

Learn more about the South Carolina Food Access Task Force and the Healthy Food Financing Initiative at scfoodaccess.com.

About the South Carolina Community Loan Fund: South Carolina Community Loan Fund is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Charleston. Its mission is to advance equitable access to capital by providing loans, technical assistance and advocacy for affordable housing, healthy food retail, community facilities and community business enterprise. Since its inception in 2004, it has financed more than $25.8 million in loans throughout the state, resulting in the completion of more than $217.8 million in community development projects. For more information, please visit www.sccommunityloanfund.org.