For the past year, we have been working on creating a Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) in South Carolina and now, we need your help.
The Ways and Means Committee is currently debating the full budget, which includes our $100,000 appropriation for the HFFI. This initiative would be a public-private partnership, which would support local farmers and businesses by providing access to loans and grants to support the establishment, renovation or expansion of different food projects, including farm businesses, mobile markets, small food stores, and grocery stores. These projects would focus on communities where residents do not have access to affordable, healthy food, areas known as food deserts.
We urge you to call your state representative and encourage him/her to support the HFFI for the following reasons:
- Investing in these local communities spurs economic development, which increases property values and tax revenues and increases jobs.
- Small farmers often need initial support in fostering the production, processing and sale of locally produced fruits and vegetables into local markets. With a guaranteed market, farmers can begin to profit from their land, and South Carolina can rely less on producers outside the state for their food, becoming more self-reliant.
- Research shows that the lack of healthy affordable food options in neighborhoods often result in higher rates of obesity and obesity-related health issues. All taxpayers in South Carolina bear the costs (whether through private insurance, Medicaid or Medicare expenses) of obesity-related health issues of our citizens which cost S.C. well over a $1 billion per year.
Thank you for lending your voice to our efforts. Together, we will create a HFFI for our state.