The California FreshWorks Fund has awarded $105,000 in grants to improve access to healthier foods for low-income families in the San Francisco Bay Area and Southern California, Payers & Providers reports.
The fund provides grants and loans to businesses that encourage healthy eating and lifestyles. It is financed by Kaiser Permanente and the California Endowment.
Studies have suggested that low-income communities in California are "food deserts" that have many fast food businesses and convenience stores but lack markets with fresh produce.
Scott Sporte -- chief lending officer at NCB Capital Impact, which administers the fund -- said, "More than one million California residents need to drive over 20 minutes from their homes to buy fresh produce, and most don't or can't do it."
The grants were awarded to:
- The Community Development Foundation of Los Angeles;
- The Heritage Education Group in Compton; and
- Mandela Marketplace in Oakland.
The Community Development Foundation and the Heritage Education Group plan to use the funds to start new farmers markets in their areas. Meanwhile, Mandela Marketplace seeks to examine the feasibility of expanding a cooperative farmers market in the Oakland area.
Sporte said, "These investments build on innovative healthy eating initiatives and will help more families shop closer to home for foods that can help them live healthier, happier lives" (Payers & Providers, 7/19).