New Technical Assistance Training Will Support CDFIs Seeking to Eradicate Food Deserts
November 2, 2010
The Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) announced today that a technical assistance provider has been selected under its Capacity-Building Initiative to provide specialized training and technical assistance to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) seeking to finance grocery stores and other businesses that deliver healthy food options to food deserts.
Food deserts are urban neighborhoods and rural towns with limited access to affordable and nutritious food. USDA estimates that more than 23 million people in America live in low-income areas that are more than a mile from a supermarket . Well-targeted financing, technical assistance, and community partnerships can help to improve access to healthy foods, develop and equip grocery stores, create new markets for small businesses and farmers, strengthen the producer-to-consumer relationship, and support broader economic development efforts to revitalize distressed rural and urban communities.
The Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI), a collaboration between the Departments of Treasury, Agriculture, and Health and Human Services, will deliver a range of interventions that seek to eradicate food deserts. The CDFI Fund's Healthy Food Financing task order will provide critical training to CDFIs to utilize federal grants, below-market rate loans, loan guarantees and tax credits that can attract private sector capital for an even greater investment in projects that increase access to fresh produce and other healthy foods.
“CDFIs are strategically poised to have a powerful role in the Healthy Food Financing Imitative and improve access to healthy food in distressed communities across the country” said CDFI Fund Director Donna J. Gambrell. “The training enabled by the CDFI Fund's Capacity-Building Initiative will help to lay a strong foundation so that all CDFIs are prepared for the unique opportunities presented by funding that the Administration has requested in FY 2011 under the Healthy Food Financing Initiative.”
The Opportunity Finance Network (OFN), a certified CDFI with 25 years of experience in community development, has been selected as the provider to deliver the Healthy Food Financing task order for the CDFI Fund. The CDFI Fund will be working closely with OFN and its partners to deliver specialized technical assistance and training services. The training provided by OFN and its subcontractors will build the capacity of CDFIs to finance a broad continuum of access to healthy food options. All training opportunities will be posted on the CDFI Fund's website in the coming months.
Task orders previously announced under the Capacity-Building Initiative focused upon training for affordable housing and business lending, portfolio management, risk assessment, foreclosure prevention, training in CDFI business processes and assistance with liquidity and capitalization challenges.
About the Opportunity Finance Network
The Opportunity Finance Network is a leading network of private financial intermediaries identifying and investing in opportunities to benefit low-income and low-wealth people in the U.S. OFN's mission is to lead the community development finance system to scale through capital formation, policy and capacity development. OFN has managed numerous national capacity building initiatives and worked successfully with CDFIs on a daily basis. OFN's team is recognized across the CDFI industry as experts in CDFI capacity building, risk management, institutional growth and development, and strategy.
About the CDFI Fund
The CDFI Fund invests in and builds the capacity of community-based, private, for-profit and non-profit financial institutions with a primary mission of community development in economically distressed communities. These institutions – certified by the CDFI Fund as Community Development Financial Institutions or CDFIs – are able to respond to gaps in local markets that traditional financial institutions are not adequately serving. CDFIs provide critically needed capital, credit and other financial products in addition to technical assistance to community residents and businesses, service providers, and developers working to meet community needs. The CDFI Fund's vision is an America in which all people have adequate access to affordable capital, credit and financial services.