Gov. Wolf announces $10 million available to support Pennsylvania’s food system

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WTAJ) — Governor Tom Wolf announced on Thursday that $10 million is available for Pennsylvania businesses in low to moderate income areas that worked to maintain access to fresh food throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Fresh Food Financing Initiative COVID-19 Relief Fund is funded through the CARES Act and is available to for-profit, nonprofit or cooperative entities impacted by COVID-19. This includes the following:

  • Grocery stores
  • Corner stores
  • Convenience stores
  • Neighborhood markets
  • Bodegas
  • Food hubs
  • Mobile markets
  • Farmers markets
  • On-farm markets
  • Urban farms
  • Food aggregation centers with a direct connection to direct-to-consumer retail outlets

More than 50% of sales must be from staple and perishable foods to consumers in order to be eligible. Retailers must also serve consumers that live in a low to moderate income area.

Applicants must also provide access to affordable, healthy grocery items and must accept SNAP and WIC to the maximum extent possible.

In recognition of the disproportionate impacts of both COVID-19 and food apartheid on communities made up of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), and especially Black and African American communities, prioritization will be given to businesses owned by minorities and serving low-income BIPOC communities.

Applications will be accepted through Aug. 14. The grant funds will be distributed to eligible applicants if the following has occurred related to COVID-19 between March 1 and Nov. 30.

  • Higher operating costs related to cleaning and social distancing requirements, including costs related to outside contracting associated with managing social distancing, limited occupancy, and cleaning
  • Infrastructure improvements including renovation, new construction, or adaptive reuse directly related to COVID-19
  • Equipment purchases that improve the availability of quality fresh food, such as additional refrigeration to manage volume, or personal protective equipment such as plexiglass dividers
  • Inventory (higher cost of goods, higher transportation or delivery costs, or procuring Pennsylvania-grown produce, meat, and dairy products, or loss of product)
  • Innovative food access technology such as mobile or pop-up markets, or mobile EBT reader technology
  • Costs to expand access to Pennsylvania grown or processed produce, dairy and meat products or provide stable market access for Pennsylvania farmers that have lost or limited markets
  • Other one-time or increased expenses incurred related to COVID-19

The Fresh Food Financing Initiative is an important step in putting food on the tables of individuals and families in need. Now more than ever, this initiative is essential to fighting hunger and ensuring access to healthy food for those hit hardest by this crisis.”

Senator Tim Kearney (D-Chester, Delaware)

More information about eligibility, award amounts and criteria can be found here.

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