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PHILADELPHIA - Pennsylvania's governor cleared the way for a non-profit organization to use $10 million from the Market Development Appropriation Act 7A to administer a statewide supermarket initiative that will support development of supermarkets and other fresh-food retailers in underserved, disadvantaged urban and rural communities throughout Pennsylvania that lack adequate access to supermarkets.
Through a program of grants and loans, this initiative will enhance the food markets' component of the First Industries program when the Keystone State's financing authority approves guidelines for the program. The funds are being allocated through the Department of Community and Economic Development.
"It is crucial that we provide the funding and resources to help bring supermarkets to areas that have been underserved for too long," Gov. Ed Rendell said in a statement. "Bringing supermarkets into these areas will promote healthy living and create jobs throughout the commonwealth."
Last year, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives' Committee on Health and Human Services released a report urging state and local governments to create economic incentives to encourage the development of supermarkets in urban neighborhoods.
According to the Food Marketing Task Force, Philadelphia has the second-lowest number of supermarkets per capita of major cities in the nation. The lack of access to healthy food is directly linked to higher rates of obesity, malnutrition, and diet-related disease among low-income families. In Philadelphia, 7 percent of adults are diabetic, 23 percent are obese and 59 percent are overweight.
Because of a strong partnership among city and state government officials, supermarket industry representatives, developers, health professionals, community advocacy groups, business leaders and economic development professionals, TRF will administer the funds to address this problem.
The grants would be limited to projects that benefit the local economy or well being of a neighborhood. TRF has also agreed to raise at least $30 million in additional capital to leverage the state grant of $10 million.