Social Enterprise / The California FreshWorks Fund

The California FreshWorks Fund

The California FreshWorks Fund is a $200 million loan fund that will finance grocery stores and healthy food retailing in food deserts in California.
“In an announcement ceremony today at the White House, First Lady Michelle Obama announced an innovative healthy food financing initiative – the California FreshWorks Fund. A project of The California Endowment and an all-star team of partners, FreshWorks is a $200 million public-private partnership loan fund created to increase access to healthy, affordable food in underserved communities, spur economic development, and inspire innovation in healthy food retailing.
The First Lady celebrated the launch of the fund by inviting partners involved in the initiative to the White House for a healthy foods summit with corporate and industry leaders. Mrs. Obama, a vocal advocate for healthy food access, highlighted the work of the California FreshWorks Fund and of those involved in its development.

The California FreshWorks Fund (CAFWF) is modeled after the successful Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative and developed to align with the National Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI). The fund will make communities across California healthier by working directly with grocers on developing new and improved places to buy nutritious food. According to CAFWF partners, the new stores are expected to create or retain around 6,000 jobs in California.”

Lark Galloway-Gilliam, the founding Executive Director of Community Health Councils, was one of the key partners for the creation of the California FreshWorks Fund. Here is a video of Lark at the launch party at The California Endowment.

“Health happens in our neighborhoods. Families can’t eat healthier food if they can’t buy it where they live,” said Robert K. Ross, M.D., president and CEO of The California Endowment. “The sheer number of banks and other investors involved proves that this is not only the right thing to do to improve the health of our communities, but it’s financially attractive.” He added, “The more than a dozen partners who made it happen should be congratulated for their vision and collaboration.”

– Robert K. Ross, M.D., President and CEO of The California Endowment

“The lack of full-service grocery stores carrying fresh, quality healthy food has fueled the high rates of death and disability due to diet-related diseases like heart disease and diabetes in communities like South Los Angeles. Research has shown for each additional supermarket, the likelihood of residents meeting nutritional guidelines increases by one third. The California FreshWorks Fund is an opportunity to break down stigma, misperceptions and bureaucratic obstacles and brings quality stores back into our communities.”

– Lark Galloway-Gilliam, Founding Executive Director of Community Health Councils

“Improving food access is a relatively new but important tool for redevelopment agencies to help rebuild and strengthen neighborhoods. The FreshWorks Fund offers a critical funding source that can be combined with redevelopment funds to encourage better community access to healthy food.”

– Christine Essel, CEO of the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles