The Wichita-based Kansas Health Foundation has announced the launch of a $4.2 million initiative to help create and sustain food access points in the state.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than eight hundred thousand Kansans, many of them in rural areas, do not have access to healthy, affordable food within a reasonable distance of their home. To address the situation, the foundation's new Kansas Healthy Food Initiative will work with local growers and investors to leverage KHF funds in support of food access points in areas of significant need. Fundable ideas could include improving food distribution to rural grocers, offering technology or energy-efficient improvements to grocers, or seeking innovative solutions to address the shortage of food access points in so-called food deserts.
A portion of the funding will go to Kansas State University's Center for Engagement and Community Development, which will serve as coordinator of the initiative and work directly with retail outlets and organizations. Additional funding is being provided for a loan/grant pool in support of food access projects and will be managed by IFF, a nonprofit community development financial institution.
"Individuals and families can improve their health when they have better access to healthy food," said KHF president and CEO Steve Coen. "Research also tells us that local grocery stores strengthen community economies. We believe the KHFI is another tool to address food access issues in Kansas."