Every Kansan should have access to healthy, affordable food, but more than 800,000 do not have access within a reasonable distance from their home. And, more than 30 percent of Kansas counties are considered food deserts, or locations where a grocery store is not available within a mile in urban areas, or 10 miles in rural areas, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
To help create a system that supports efforts improving food access, the Kansas Health Foundation (KHF) will be providing approximately $4.2 million for the Kansas Healthy Food Initiative (KHFI). Local growers or investors will be able to leverage KHF funds with other funding opportunities to sustain or create food access points in areas of great need.
“Individuals and families can improve their health when they have better access to healthy food,” said Steve Coen, KHF president and CEO. “Research also tells us that local grocery stores strengthen community economies. We believe the KHFI is another tool to address food access issues in Kansas.”
Approved KHFI efforts could include improving food distribution to rural grocers, offering technology or energy-efficient improvements to grocers, or seeking innovative solutions for food access points in food deserts.
A portion of KHF’s funding will go to Kansas State University’s Center for Engagement and Community Development, which will serve as the Food Access Organization and will work directly with retail outlets and organizations. K-State has been a leader in improving food access in areas that need it most, launching the Rural Grocery Initiative in 2007. The Food Trust, a national organization focused on food retail for underserved populations, will assist K-State with best practices and evaluation.
Other funding is being provided for a loan/grant pool for food access projects across Kansas. This funding pool will be managed by IFF, a nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution.
A full KHFI launch will occur this fall, and will include a website with information about the program and eligibility. To learn more, view the official KHFI fact sheet.
The Kansas Health Foundation is based in Wichita, but statewide in its focus. With a mission to improve the health of all Kansans, KHF envisions a culture in which every Kansan can make healthy choices where they live, work and play. To achieve this, the Foundation focuses its grantmaking in two primary program areas: Health Equity, with the goal of reducing health disparities related to social and economic factors; and Civic Health, with the goal to engage Kansans in improving the health of our state. To learn more about KHF, please visit www.kansashealth.org.
Every month, our electronic newsletter, Health Happenings, features a story about a focus area, grant, partnership or program involving the Foundation.