February 5, 2019
Dear Chair Poppe and Members of the House Agriculture and Food Finance & Policy Division,
We, the undersigned organizations, write to call attention to Minnesota’s food access challenges and to ask you to support a reinvestment in the Good Food Access Fund (HF 436).
Hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans—many of them children and elderly—live in areas where they have limited or no access to healthy, affordable foods, like fruits and vegetables, dairy, whole grains, lean meats and poultry. This affects individuals across rural and urban parts of the state, putting them at higher risk for poor health outcomes, like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Unfortunately, our state’s food access challenges are growing, as more and more communities experience grocery stores closures.
The Good Food Access Fund was established in 2016 to help address this problem. It’s designed to provide grants, loans and technical assistance to small food retailers – from grocery stores to corner stores, farmers’ markets and more – who are working to increase access to healthy, affordable foods in areas of the state that lack them. Some examples of how the Good Food Access Fund can address the gaps in healthy food retail include: • providing the capital needed to bring new grocery stores to fruition in communities currently lacking food retailers, • providing the resources necessary to upgrade equipment in existing grocery stores, • providing additional refrigeration space for convenience stores to carry healthier foods, • helping create or expand farmers markets that provide healthy, locally grown foods, and • providing technical assistance to support innovative models such as mobile markets or delivery services to bring groceries to communities and individuals who lack access.
Retailers in more than 20 communities throughout the state have received Good Food Access Fund resources to-date, with demand consistently far exceeding dollars available. The positive impacts include not only improved access to healthy, affordable foods but also boosted local economies and new and expanded markets for Minnesota agriculture producers.
Despite this progress, Minnesota’s food access challenges still exist, and without a new investment in the Good Food Access Fund this session, this important work will stop.
Please support HF 436 and help make sure more Minnesotans have access to healthy, affordable foods.