Every Kansan should have access to healthy, affordable food, but more than 800,000 do not have access within a reasonable distance from their home. More than 30 percent of Kansas counties are considered low income and low access areas according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In 2017, the Kansas Health Foundation seeded the Kansas Healthy Food Initiative, a healthy food financing initiative that supports projects aiming to increase access to healthy food at the retail level in low-resource and underserved areas of Kansas.
Approved KHFI projects could include the development or renovation of a grocery store, improving food distribution to rural grocers, offering technology or energy-efficient improvements to grocers, or seeking innovative solutions for food access points in food deserts.
K-State Research and Extension partners to implement the KHFI by:
- working directly with retail outlets and organizations,
- reviewing all applicants to the program for eligibility, and
- connecting to available technical assistance resources.
K-State has been a leader in improving food access in areas that need it most, launching the Rural Grocery Initiative in 2007. NetWork Kansas provides the program with a strategic financial partnerships based on their statewide experience of supporting entrepreneurs and provides financing to eligible projects. IFF, a community development financial institution, manages the loan/grant pool for food access projects across Kansas and provides financing to eligible projects. The Food Trust, a national organization focused on healthy food access for underserved populations, assists KHFI with best practices and evaluation.