The White House Wants Your Food Access Stories

It has been a big few weeks for the federal efforts to bring healthy food to underserved communities.

In his FY 2012 budget request, President Obama proposed $330 million for the Healthy Food Financing Initiative, which would support more healthy food retail in under-served communities. We are thrilled to see that HFFI continues to be a priority for the Obama administration.

We will keep you posted and ask for your support as Congress reviews the budget proposal this Spring. The funding breaks down like this:

  • $35 million through USDA’s Office of the Secretary, with additional “other funds of Rural Development and the Agricultural Marketing Service available to support the USDA’s portion of the Healthy Food Financing Initiative”
  • $25 million through the Treasury Department’s CDFI Fund
  • $250 million through the Treasury Department’s New Markets Tax Credits Program
  • $20 million through HHS through the Departments Community Economic Development program

The White House Wants Your Stories!

The White House is continuing its commitment to healthy food access by seeking your stories ”to help communities think differently and creatively about how they can braid Federal funds to catalyze and drive a core set of results for revitalizing neighborhoods, and to help Federal agencies identify barriers that might prevent Federal funds from being used to maximum impact.”

Please send your suggestions to NRI@ed.gov (and cc rebecca@policylink.org). Deadline for submissions is March 25.

Also we are excited to see a new joint website from USDA, Treasury, and HHS to address access to healthy food, highlighting existing resources and encouraging local groups to form partnerships to apply for a range of these funds.

Please contact Rebecca@policylink.org if you have any questions.

For those interested in submitting ideas to the White House, here’s some instructions direct from them:

The Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative (NRI)

The NRI aims to support the transformation of distressed neighborhoods into neighborhoods of opportunity—places that provide the opportunities, resources, and environments that children, youth, and adults need to reach their full potential. The initiative’s work is based on a theory of change which maintains that an integrated, coordinated effort is required to increase the quality of neighborhood (1) educational and developmental, (2) commercial, (3) recreational, (4) physical, and (5) social assets. It is expected that these efforts, when sustained by local leadership over an extended period, will improve resident well-being and community quality of life.

The NRI is led by the White House, and currently includes significant participation by the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, and Treasury. For more on the NRI, please see http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/09/21/transforming-distressed-neighborhoods-neighborhoods-opportunity.

Interagency Policy Brief

The NRI is developing an interagency policy brief that will highlight promising neighborhood revitalization efforts across the nation.  The purpose of the brief is two-fold: to help communities think differently and creatively about how they can braid Federal funds to catalyze and drive a core set of results for revitalizing neighborhoods, and to help Federal agencies identify barriers that might prevent Federal funds from being used to maximum impact.

As part of this effort, we are hoping to identify examples and models of successful neighborhood revitalization efforts that the government – and other communities – can learn from. A selection of these examples will be highlighted later this year in an event and on the White House website.

If your organization would like to share examples of promising practices, please send a brief response that addresses the following questions to NRI@ed.gov.

  • How have you used funding from multiple Federal programs to successfully pursue neighborhood revitalization?  It would be helpful if your response addressed one or more of these factors:

o The specific neighborhood revitalization goals you were pursuing. Examples include: improved educational outcomes from cradle to career; enhanced labor force participation; poverty reduction; infrastructure improvements such as parks, housing, and transportation; community building; increased public safety; new economic development; and improved public health.

o The types of State, local, and private funding, combined with Federal funding, used to support these efforts.

o Your efforts to align or braid these programs or funds to achieve maximum impact on neighborhood revitalization.

o The impact of any waivers to Federal regulations you received.

  • What factors have limited your ability to use Federal programs or funds to successfully pursue neighborhood revitalization?
  • How have you developed your organization’s capacity to design and implement neighborhood revitalization efforts?
  • What additional Federal support is needed to facilitate successful neighborhood revitalization efforts?  How should that support be structured?

Please limit your response to no more than three pages. Responses received by March 25, 2011 will receive full consideration. Thank you for your assistance with this important effort to transform distressed neighborhoods into neighborhoods of opportunity.

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