CDFIs Trained to Help Eradicate Food Deserts & Decrease Public Health Challenges
(August 22, 2011 - Madison, WI) Last week, the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund), a department of the U.S. Treasury that promotes economic revitalization and community development through investment in and assistance to CDFIs; The U.S. Department of Agriculture; Opportunity Finance Network (OFN), the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (Federation); and other healthy foods expert practitioners, held a workshop in Madison, WI to train approximately 20 CDFIs on how to increase access to healthy foods in their communities.
|Federation President/CEO, Cliff Rosenthal addressing the workshop attendees.
The training was held in conjunction with the Federation’s CDCU Institute, and Federation consultant Ginger McNally, former CEO of the nearly $90 million in assets Santa Cruz Community CU (Santa Cruz, CA) led much of the training. Participants had the opportunity to hear from Federation President/CEO Clifford N. Rosenthal who also addressed the group.
"Too many Americans live in food deserts with limited or no access to healthy foods. As a result, their communities have increased rates of obesity, diabetes, and other public health challenges," said Donna J. Gambrell, Director of the CDFI Fund.
Food deserts are urban neighborhoods and rural towns with limited access to affordable and nutritious food. USDA estimates that more than 23 million people in America live in low-income areas that are more than a mile from a supermarket.
To help eradicate food deserts and decrease public health issues, the CDFI Fund and OFN are offering free healthy food financing workshops across the United States. Last week's workshop provided 19 CDFIs-including 16 local CDFIs from the upper Midwest-in-depth training on Mid-Tier Food Chain Enterprises, including food processing, food aggregation and distribution, and waste management.
|Federation Consultant and former CDCU CEO, Ginger McNally, speaking at the training in Madison.
Highlights of this two-day workshop included:
- Practitioner Panel: Discussion of local Mid-Tier food chain CDFI borrowers featuring:
- Impact Seven, a CDFI lender to food related businesses, whose mission is to comprehensively impact the population of Wisconsin, showcased the story of InteVation, located in Plover, Wisconsin. InteVation packages healthy vegetables produced in the upper mid-west to large scale retailers such as Wal-Mart.
- Southwest Wisconsin Community Action described working with food producers to implement a cooperative and sustainable business model to create a local source of healthy foods to hospitals, universities and other institutional buyers. Southwest Wisconsin Community Action's mission is to significantly and meaningfully involve low-income people in developing and carrying out anti-poverty programs.
- Case Study Presentation by Dan Carmody of the Eastern Market Corporation: Dan told an amazing story about Detroit's Eastern Market, a 100 year old, five-acre complex in downtown Detroit that provides access to healthy food to thousands of residents each week and a market to hundreds of small food-related businesses. Dan demonstrated Eastern Market's economic impact through jobs, tax revenue and business creation.
- Case Study Presentation by Sue Noble of Vernon Economic Development Association: When the largest manufacturer in this rural county in southwest Wisconsin left town, not only were jobs lost. The large facility in the center of the community was also left deserted. Sue told the story of working closely with State, Federal and other sources of funding to develop a business plan to transform this facility into a food hub for local farmers and small food processors to supply healthy foods to nearby larger population communities.
In addition to OFN, food experts from across the country presented portions of the workshop curriculum, including:
For the most up-to-date information, including the schedule of national workshops, registration, and free resources, visit the CDFI Fund's Capacity Building Initiative web page.
About OFN: Opportunity Finance Network (OFN), the leading network of private financial institutions, creates growth that is good for communities, investors, individuals, and the economy. Members of OFN are community development financial institutions (CDFIs) that deliver responsible lending to help low-wealth and low- income communities join the economic mainstream. Opportunity Finance Network originated more than $23.2 billion in financing in non-conforming urban, rural, and Native communities through 2009, which generated or maintained 298,511 jobs; 60,261 businesses and microenterprises; 635,528 housing units; and 6,465 community facility projects. More information is available at: www.opportunityfinance.net.
© 2011 National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions.