HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania has launched a new program that will provide $10 million in grants to convenience stores, supermarkets, bodeags, co-ops, farmers markets and other food retailers hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Fresh Food Financing Initiative (FFFI) provides one-time grants to eligible food retailers to increase access to healthy, affordable food and to improve economic opportunities for underserved communities in Pennsylvania. It is funded by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and is administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.
Large or regional anchor supermarkets can receive up to $1 million per operator; full-service supermarkets can receive up to $500,000 per operator; and neighborhood markets and food enterprises can receive up to $100,000 per operator.
Retailers will receive funding based on their eligible expenses and other criteria, which may vary per region since population density can influence the total square footage of food retail.
Grant applications will be accepted through Aug. 14, 2020, and will be distributed to retailers who have taken on the following amid the pandemic:
- Higher operating costs related to cleaning and social distancing requirements, including costs related to outside contracting associated with managing social distancing, limited occupancy and cleaning.
- Infrastructure improvements, including renovation, new construction or adaptive reuse.
- Equipment purchases that improve the availability of quality fresh food, including additional refrigeration to manage volume or PPE such as plexiglass dividers.
- Inventory (higher cost of goods, higher transportation or delivery costs or procuring Pennsylvania-grown produce, meat and dairy products or loss of product).
- Food-access technology, such as mobile or pop-up markets or mobile EBT card readers.
- Costs to expand access to Pennsylvania grown or processed produce, dairy and meat products or provide stable market access for Pennsylvania farmers that have lost or limited markets.
- Other one-time or increased expenses incurred related to COVID-19.
“Pennsylvania’s food retailers stepped up to the plate to protect those putting food on the shelf, to think outside of the box to protect the most vulnerable, and to make investments to support those using assistance programs such as SNAP and WIC to support their families,” said Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf. “I will be forever grateful to those who have worked hard to ensure food is always accessible through this pandemic; our frontline workers in grocery stores and farmers markets are among Pennsylvania’s heroes.”
The program will prioritize minority-owned businesses and retailers located in low-income Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. Additional prioritization criteria include businesses located in or serving USDA-designated food desert; businesses sourcing and selling Pennsylvania-grown or processed products; and applicants with supplier diversity and offering opportunities for minority business enterprises, women business enterprises, service-disabled veteran business enterprises, veteran business enterprises, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender business enterprises and disability-owned business enterprises.
“During these unprecedented times, it is critical that we provide support to the communities and organizations that need them most. The COVID-19 pandemic has illuminated the vulnerability of so many people who are struggling with food insecurity, especially how food deserts disproportionately impact communities of color,” said State Senator Tim Kearney (D). “The Fresh Food Financing Initiative is an important step in putting food on the tables of individuals and families in need. Now more than ever, this initiative is essential to fighting hunger and ensuring access to healthy food for those hit hardest by this crisis.”