Four rural Kansas communities have recently been awarded a total of $135,000 through the first round of the Kansas Health Foundation’s Kansas Healthy Food Initiative (KHFI). KHFI is a new innovative loan/grant funding initiative for grocery improvements, food distribution, farmers’ markets or other innovative projects to support increased access to fresh, nutritious food.
Eligible projects must primarily serve a low- to moderate-income community or neighborhood where there are no comparable fresh food markets or full-service grocery stores within the trade area, or if residents must travel outside the trade area to meet their grocery needs.
More than 752,800 Kansans do not have access to healthy food sources, such as grocery stores, within a reasonable distance from their home (or 1 mile in urban areas and 10 miles for rural areas), according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“Many community grocery stores want to continue to serve local residents, but often operating costs are high, or they can’t afford buying a limited amount of healthy food to offer to their customers,” said Steve Coen, Kansas Health Foundation (KHF) president and CEO. “The KHFI is a unique funding tool to expand existing grocery stores with fresh fruits, vegetables and meat, or to reduce energy costs so they can keep the doors open. With the grant/loan financing, grocers will replenish the fund, meaning we can support more communities over time, help Kansans have access to healthy food and strengthen local economies.”
KHF allocated approximately $4.2 million for the loan/grant initiative to create a system that supports efforts improving greater access to healthy food.
Communities receiving KHFI funding, include:
Grinnell, Gove County –
Hometown Grocery, a community-owned grocery store, will use its $10,000 grant and $5,000 loan to purchase new freezers and a cooler for fresh produce. These improvements will reduce energy costs through greater efficiency. The store will also renovate its public restrooms.
Lucas, Russell County –
Home Oil, a local convenience store, will be using a $25,000 grant for building expansion and equipment upgrades to increase the amount of fresh, healthy food–including produce and fresh meat–in the store.
Moran, Allen County –
The Mildred Store, a local grocery store, will use a $13,300 grant and $6,700 loan for energy-efficient equipment upgrades. Outdated coolers will be replaced to allow the store to carry more produce and reduce energy costs.
St. John, Stafford County –
Stafford County Economic Development, a nonprofit developing the Stafford County Marketplace–which will include a grocery store, pharmacy and gas station–raised $75,000 to receive a $75,000 challenge grant. The grant will be used for new construction, equipment and fixtures since the town’s grocery store closed in early 2016.
KHFI is made possible due to a partnership between Kansas State University’s Center for Engagement and Community Development, the food access organization implementing the KHFI, NetWork Kansas, a statewide network of non-profit business-building resources, The Food Trust, a national organization focused on food retail for underserved populations and IFF, a nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution.
KHFI financing is available for entities looking to sustain or create food access points in areas of great need. Loans and grants must meet eligibility requirements. To learn more, visit the KHFI website.
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, KHF focuses its work in four impact areas: access to affordable health care, healthy behaviors, civic and community engagement and educational attainment. During its history, KHF has provided more than $500 million in grants to Kansas communities and organizations, and looks forward to working toward its mission and vision for many years to come.
Every month, our electronic newsletter, Health Happenings, features a story about a focus area, grant, partnership or program involving the Foundation.