LEAF Named Lead Administrator of Massachusetts Food Trust Program
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts recently announced that LEAF, in partnership with The Franklin County CDC, would be the lead CDFI administrator of the Massachusetts Food Trust Program (MFTP), a healthy food fund that has been seeded with $1 million from the Commonwealth.
Signed into law by the Baker-Polito Administration on July 1st, 2018, the MFTP is a statewide healthy food financing initiative aimed at increasing access to healthy, affordable food in low-income urban, suburban, and rural communities with an emphasis on entrepreneurs producing, promoting, and selling healthy food grown, caught, or harvested in Massachusetts. MFTP offers critical financing tools and business resources to launch and expand businesses that increase food access, create jobs, and stimulate economic investment in communities across the Commonwealth.
In addition to co-administering this project with Franklin County CDC, LEAF will be partnering with The Food Trust (TFT) and the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR). The Franklin County CDC is a capital and technical assistance provider for small businesses, serving Western Massachusetts for almost 40 years. In addition to supporting local farmers and growers through their own funds and their related Pioneer Valley Grows Fund, they also operate a full service commercial kitchen and food-processing center to support local food entrepreneurs.
The Food Trust is a nationally recognized nonprofit dedicated to ensuring that everyone has access to affordable, nutritious food and information to make healthy decisions. TFT has experience implementing similar programs in other states, and they have been instrumental in helping to organize and launch the program.
MDAR will represent the state agency overseeing and evaluating MFTP and will be a key partner in ensuring that the Commonwealth’s goals are being met in improving food access and supporting local farmers and local food.
Together with these partners, LEAF hopes to provide technical assistance for new and existing healthy food access businesses in low-income, underserved areas in the form of a grant or loan. The MFTP will consider a wide range of projects, including but not limited to: grocery stores, center stores, co-ops, farmers markets, and food hubs.
Regardless of what the specific project is, all projects awarded funds by the MFTP will meet local community needs and have positive social and economic impacts.
An official launch event for the program which will be announced soon, including a website that will offer a link to an application and more information on project eligibility.