Virginia Community Capital (VCC) has pledged to build opportunities for healthy foods in urban and rural areas across the commonwealth, and, in doing so, has been recognized at the Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI America) meeting. VCC’s Commitment to Action was accepted by CGI last month and is now listed at http://www.clintonglobalinitiative.org/commitments/.
A Commitment to Action — the defining feature of CGI — is a plan for addressing significant social and economic challenges. To date CGI members have made more than 2,300 Commitments to Action, which have improved the lives of over 400 million people in more than 180 countries.
VCC’s Commitment is based on addressing the unmet capital needs of healthy food enterprises throughout rural and urban regions in Virginia and to catalyze the growth of Virginia's healthy foods sector. The Virginia Fresh Food Loan Fund (VFFLF) is an $11 million fund and represents a scale up and expansion of “Get Fresh East End!” the Healthy Corner Store pilot program in Richmond's East End neighborhood.
The VFFLF combines small business technical assistance as well as lending opportunities to increase the capacity of urban corner stores to sell and market healthy items and foster the expansion and formation of food hubs primarily located in rural communities. The VFFLF serves as a new and important tool in building access to healthy foods in urban areas as well as strengthening the overall food system throughout rural Virginia.
“In America, 23 million people live in food deserts or areas that lack access to fresh, nutritious, affordable food,” explains VCC President and CEO Jane Henderson in a CGI Commitment video. “In Virginia, that number is 800,000 families. This fund is designed to help them.”
“Our ‘Get Fresh’ Healthy Corner Store pilot really encouraged us to develop a more far-reaching strategy to expand access to healthier food systems across Virginia,” explains Teri Lovelace, who oversees Community Impact and Investments at VCC. “Store owners and residents alike have responded favorably to fresh foods and outreach efforts provided by Tricycle Gardens, a key partner in the Get Fresh initiative. Richmond’s East End is now enjoying fresher, healthier food choices at two of their favorite corner stores.”
Richmond has been identified as the largest food desert for a city its size in the United States. In absence of a traditional grocery store, many residents of urban food deserts are primarily purchasing food from local corner stores which carry high calorie, processed, and unhealthy foods. This consumption trend has significant health impacts, particularly for youth. A 2007 study conducted in Philadelphia found that 42% of the urban youth surveyed shop in corner stores two times a day and 53% surveyed visit once a day.
The VFFLF addresses Virginia’s rural food deserts through the provision of food hub financing, which faces capitalization challenges. Food hubs are facilities that manage the aggregation, storage, processing, distribution, or marketing of locally and regionally produced food. As regional food hubs continue to gain momentum and expand their operations, one of their primary needs is accessing growth capital and business development support. No singular model exists to finance these endeavors. Many traditional bank lenders see these enterprises as too risky. Furthermore, the absence of a statewide healthy food financing fund and the lack of relevant experience and institutional knowledge in providing food-related financing from traditional financial institutions results in an unmet need for specialized financing solutions for small and medium-sized food- based businesses.
VCC will report to the CGI Commitment to Action for a three-year period. VCC anticipates developing private funding partners for the project and is also investigating creation of Fresh Food Notes for accredited investors as well as Program Related Investments and Mission Related investments to offer returns to foundation partners.
To learn more, contact Teri Lovelace at 804.344.5484 Ext. 125 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Get Fresh Task Force
The City of Richmond’s East End, a Bon Secours Healthy Community, is a “food desert”. In late 2012, a collaboration of representatives from Bon Secours Richmond Health System, local government and other for- and non-profit entities focused on healthy foods identified a tremendous need for a “grass-roots” healthy foods initiative in the East End of Richmond. As a result of this initial meeting an East End Healthy Foods Task Force was formed and a new initiative, “Get Fresh East End!” was born.
Members of the “Get Fresh East End” Task Force include representatives from, Tricycle Gardens, Richmond City Council, the Virginia Health Department, Bon Secours Health Systems, Shalom Farms, The Community Foundation, Institute of Public Health Innovation, Neighborhood Resource Center (NRC) and Virginia Community Capital (VCC). Each of these partners brings a different perspective to this strategy and operates a component which aligns with either their mission or area of expertise.
About CGI America
Established in June 2011 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI America), an initiative of the Clinton Foundation, addresses economic recovery in the United States. CGI America brings together leaders in business, government, and civil society to generate and implement commitments to create jobs, stimulate economic growth, foster innovation, and support workforce development in the United States. Since its first meeting, CGI America participants have made more than 200 commitments valued at $13.6 billion when fully funded and implemented. To learn more, visit cgiamerica.org.
CGI America (CGIA) convenes leaders to turn ideas into action. CGI America Commitments to Action represent bold new ways that CGI commitment makers address challenges in the United States—implemented through new methods of partnership and designed to maximize impact. Commitments can be small or large, global or local. No matter the size or scope, commitments help CGI America commitment makers translate practical goals into meaningful and measurable results
About the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI)
Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), an initiative of the Clinton Foundation, convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. CGI Annual Meetings have brought together more than 150 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media. To date CGI members have made more than 2,300 commitments, which are already improving the lives of more than 400 million people in over 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued at $73.5 billion.
CGI also convenes CGI America, a meeting focused on collaborative solutions to economic recovery in the United States, and CGI University (CGI U), which brings together undergraduate and graduate students to address pressing challenges in their community or around the world. For more information, visit clintonglobalinitiative.org and follow us on Twitter @ClintonGlobal and Facebook at facebook.com/clintonglobalinitiative.