Financing small businesses offering healthy food options to residents within Maryland’s designated Food Desert Areas and Sustainable Communities
Maryland’s Fresh Food Financing Initiative is aimed at increasing access to healthy foods in underserved areas termed "food deserts". It is designed to provide flexible financing, through the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development’s Neighborhood BusinessWorks program, for the start-up, rehabilitation or expansion of businesses and nonprofits, with a particular emphasis on those that will source fresh food from Maryland farmers to designated food deserts areas and Sustainable Communities.
Fresh Food Financing applicants must be located in a designated Food Desert Area or Sustainable Community.
Food deserts are generally defined as communities that do not have easy access to healthy foods including fresh fruits and vegetables, typically in the form of a supermarket or grocery store. Local governments must submit an application to the department to designate a community or neighborhood a Food Desert Area.
Businesses and nonprofits, with a particular emphasis on sourcing fresh food from Maryland farmers and offering healthy food options to residents within a Sustainable Community are eligible to apply for Fresh Food Financing.
List of currently designated Sustainable Communities
Through, House Bill 451, the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development has the authority to invest in partners who can demonstrate the ability to recruit, capitalize and support the development of a pipeline of food-related enterprises located in underserved communities within designated Food Desert Areas and Sustainable Communities. Selected community-based lending intermediaries will originate and administer such loans as well as provide their applicants with technical assistance.
An application is required to become an Intermediary. Eligible applicants are entities that are currently working in Maryland communities and are either a Community Development Financial Institution, local governments or quasi-public agency. Priority will be given to those applicants focused on jurisdictions that have food desert initiatives underway.
NOTE: Intermediaries will be required to renew their partnership status with the department every five years or when their awarded funds have been committed fully to borrowers.
Director, Business Lending Programs
Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development
7800 Harkins Road, Lanham, MD 20706