Kansas Healthy Food Initiative Offers Funding for Food & Farm Businesses
By Natalie Fullerton
The Kansas Health Foundation along with K-State’s Center for Engagement and Community Development (CECD), and Network Kansas and IFF (a community development financial institution) partnered in 2017 to help fund projects across Kansas that increase access to healthy food.
Fast forward to 2019 and 12 projects in 10 counties have received grants or loans. While several funded projects over the past year have included grocery stores, this is also an especially unique opportunity for farmers, farmers’ markets or other business’ offering locally produced food. Those who may need financial support to scale up or improve capacity to grow and supply nutritious food to communities can inquire about eligibility.
Funded project types and use of funds are flexible, however a major requirement is that projects/applicants expand fresh food offerings in neighborhoods and communities underserved by fresh food retail. The initiative welcomes innovative projects which could include but are not limited to the purchase of equipment for harvest or post-harvest handling, technology to develop communications, or infrastructure to hold, move, or process fruits and vegetables or other nutritious foods
The Center for Engagement and Community Development at KSU helps provide initial eligibility evaluation and technical assistance. This first step will help determine eligibility based on commitment to offer fresh, healthy foods, serving a low-resource and underserved area, applicant experience and whether the project proposed is a good fit for the community it will serve.
Currently, a few of the funded projects include a combination of grants and loans to support the purchase of coolers and expansion of fresh produce offerings at several grocery stores, and equipment and communications support to expand capacity and reach for other markets and businesses. Most projects also leverage other financing such as traditional bank loans, USDA funding or owner equity to ensure the project’s success.
For anyone interested in applying, visit kansashealthyfood.org or contact CECD at 785-532-6868 to learn more about the Initiative and application