Agriculture_Markets
Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
 
   
Jessica A. Chittenden
518-457-3136
jessica.chittenden@agriculture.ny.gov


July 30, 2009

Governor Paterson Announces Request For Proposals for the Healthy Food/Healthy Communities Initiative

Seeks Program Manager to Administer $10 million Revolving Loan Fund to Increase Access to
Healthy Foods in Underserved Communities

Governor David A. Paterson today issued a request for proposals from potential program administrators for the $10 million Healthy Food/Healthy Communities Revolving Loan Fund program, the cornerstone of the Governor’s Healthy Food/Healthy Communities Initiative. The program will help finance the building of food markets in underserved communities throughout the State and is designed to increase the availability of nutritious foods in areas that lack access to fresh food markets. Proposals are due by September 3, 2009, to the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), which will oversee the Initiative alongside the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

“All New Yorkers should have access to fresh, regionally grown produce and be able to purchase those products in their neighborhoods,” Governor Paterson said. “Diabetes rates have doubled in the last 10 years. Research has shown that the presence of supermarkets in communities helps people maintain a healthy weight and eat more fruits and vegetables. Yet, despite a growth in population in New York City, for example, the number of supermarkets has declined by one third in the past six years. We want an administrator for the Healthy Food/Healthy Communities Revolving Loan Fund program who will enthusiastically seek opportunities to finance food markets in underserved communities and assist the State in our goals to provide healthier food options and make positive personal and financial returns to local communities, farmers and consumers.”

“Our commitment to a healthier New York must support two critical components: daily exercise and a nutritious diet. This program recognizes the importance of making wholesome foods accessible and affordable, so that our residents may enjoy the benefits of fresh produce,” First Lady Michelle Paige Paterson said. “The Governor and I have made the well-being of our children and of all New Yorkers a priority and, with the support of a Healthy Food/Healthy Communities Revolving Loan Fund administrator, we will continue to make investments that benefit our overall well-being.”

The program administrator is required to be a U.S. Department of Treasury-certified Community Development Financial Institution and will direct the New York State Healthy Food/Healthy Communities Initiative. The administrator will analyze market opportunities in underserved areas, recruit potential market operators and developers, explain the program and make grants and loans. The program will provide pre-development grants and loans, land acquisition financing, equipment financing, capital grants for project funding gaps and construction and permanent financing.

The program administrator will also partner with a Food Access Organization, which will be responsible for analyzing market opportunities in underserved areas, recruit market operators and developers, explain the fund and funding criteria and pre-qualify the application (on non-financial criteria). The Food Access Organization will also provide technical assistance with regard to operating grocery stores in low-income communities.

Patrick Hooker, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, said: “It’s a known fact that while New York is a major producer of healthy and nutritious foods such as milk, meat and fresh fruits and vegetables, there are too many New Yorkers who go without. Governor Paterson has made the health and well-being of New Yorkers a priority by ensuring that in the poorest communities, our residents will have access to some of the most nutrient rich foods that are grown by our farmers.”

Empire State Development Chairman- and CEO-designate, Dennis M. Mullen said: “The agriculture industry is crucial to New York State. Today’s announcement that we will begin seeking proposals from potential program administrators for the Governor’s Healthy Food/Healthy Communities Initiative will not only help underserved New Yorkers have access to healthy food options, but will contribute to the development of profitable farming systems, create jobs and revitalize our local communities.”

The New York State Healthy Food/Healthy Communities Initiative was created in response to the rising concern over lack of access to affordable, nutritious, fresh food in underserved communities. The Governor’s New York State Council on Food Policy recently reported that while agriculture production is one of the State’s leading industries, hunger and diet-related diseases are still serious problems facing many New York residents both urban and rural.

By providing underserved New Yorkers increased access to healthy food retailers with a greater variety of fresh healthy food, this initiative will give people the choice of a more nutritionally balanced diet. The lower food costs will also enable underserved New Yorkers living on fixed budgets to purchase higher quality and more nutritional foods. Food markets located in these underserved communities will also make valuable contributions by creating jobs and revitalizing neighborhoods.


2009 Press Releases