Florida Senate - 2012                                     SB 852
       By Senator Siplin
       19-00746-12                                            2012852__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to the Healthy Foods Retail Act;
    3         providing legislative findings; providing definitions;
    4         directing the Department of Agriculture and Consumer
    5         Services to establish a financing program to help fund
    6         projects that increase access to fresh fruits and
    7         vegetables in underserved areas; authorizing the
    8         department to contract with other organizations to
    9         administer the program; specifying how the funding is
   10         to be used; providing who is eligible for funding;
   11         providing criteria for project funding and evaluation;
   12         requiring an annual report to the Legislature;
   13         authorizing available funds to be leveraged to access
   14         federal funding; authorizing the department to adopt
   15         rules; providing an effective date.
   17  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   19         Section 1. Healthy Foods Retail Act.—
   20         (1) This section may be cited as the “Healthy Foods Retail
   21  Act.
   22         (2) The Legislature finds that:
   23         (a) When fresh fruits and vegetables and other healthy
   24  foods are not easily available or affordable, people,
   25  particularly low-income families, children, and the elderly,
   26  face serious barriers to eating a healthy diet. National
   27  research indicates that residents of low-income, minority, and
   28  rural communities are most often affected by inadequate access
   29  to supermarkets and other retailers selling healthy food, as
   30  well as by high rates of obesity.
   31         (b) Obesity, which results from poor diet and physical
   32  inactivity, is the fastest growing cause of disease and death in
   33  the United States, putting growing numbers of adults and
   34  children at risk for developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes,
   35  hypertension, certain cancers, and other health problems.
   36         (c) Increasing access to retail food outlets that sell
   37  fresh fruits, vegetables, and other healthy food is an important
   38  strategy for fighting the obesity epidemic and improving health.
   39  Studies have shown that people who have better access to
   40  supermarkets and fresh produce tend to have healthier diets and
   41  lower levels of obesity.
   42         (d) Developing quality retail food outlets also creates
   43  jobs, expands markets for farmers, and supports economic
   44  vitality in underserved communities.
   45         (e) The program established pursuant to this section is
   46  intended to provide a dedicated source of financing for food
   47  retailers operating in underserved communities in this state, in
   48  both urban and rural areas; to increase access to affordable
   49  healthy food in order to improve diets and health; to promote
   50  the sale and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables,
   51  particularly those that are locally grown; and to support
   52  expanded economic opportunities in low-income and rural
   53  communities.
   54         (3) As used in this section, the term:
   55         (a) “Department” means the Department of Agriculture and
   56  Consumer Services.
   57         (b) Funding” means grants, loans, or a combination of
   58  grants and loans.
   59         (c) Healthy food retailers” means for-profit or not-for
   60  profit retailers that sell high-quality fresh fruits and
   61  vegetables at competitive prices, including, but not limited to,
   62  supermarkets, grocery stores, and farmers’ markets.
   63         (d) Program” means a public-private partnership
   64  established under this section and administered by the
   65  department to provide a dedicated source of financing for food
   66  retailers that provide increased access to fresh fruits and
   67  vegetables and other affordable healthy food for state
   68  residents.
   69         (e) Underserved community” means a geographic area that
   70  has limited access to healthy food retailers and is located in a
   71  lower income or high-poverty area, or an area that is otherwise
   72  found to have serious limitations on access to healthy food.
   73         (4) To the extent funds are available, the department, in
   74  cooperation with public and private sector partners, shall
   75  establish a financing program that provides funding to healthy
   76  food retailers that provide increased access to fresh fruits and
   77  vegetables and other affordable healthy food in underserved
   78  communities.
   79         (a) The department may contract with one or more qualified
   80  nonprofit organizations or community development financial
   81  institutions to administer the program, raise matching funds,
   82  provide for marketing the program statewide, evaluate
   83  applicants, make award decisions, underwrite loans, and monitor
   84  compliance and impact. The department and its partners shall
   85  coordinate with complementary nutrition assistance and education
   86  programs.
   87         (b) The program shall provide funding on a competitive,
   88  one-time basis as appropriate for eligible projects.
   89         (c) The program may provide funding for projects such as:
   90         1. New construction of supermarkets and grocery stores.
   91         2. Store renovations, store expansion, and infrastructure
   92  upgrades that improve the availability and quality of fresh
   93  produce.
   94         3. Farmers’ markets and public markets, food cooperatives,
   95  mobile markets and delivery projects, and distribution projects
   96  that enable food retailers in underserved communities to
   97  regularly obtain fresh produce.
   98         4. Other projects that create or improve access to healthy
   99  food retailers and meet the intent of this section as determined
  100  by the department.
  101         (d) Funding made available for projects may be used for the
  102  following purposes:
  103         1. Site acquisition and preparation.
  104         2. Construction costs.
  105         3. Equipment and furnishings.
  106         4. Workforce training.
  107         5. Security.
  108         6. Predevelopment costs such as market studies and
  109  appraisals.
  110         7. Working capital for first-time inventory and start-up
  111  costs.
  113  A restaurant is not eligible for funding under this section.
  114         (e) An applicant for funding may be a for-profit or a not
  115  for-profit entity, including, but not limited to, a sole
  116  proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company,
  117  corporation, cooperative, nonprofit organization, nonprofit
  118  community development entity, university, or governmental
  119  entity.
  120         (f) In order to be considered for funding, an applicant
  121  must meet the following criteria:
  122         1. The project for which the applicant seeks funding must
  123  benefit an underserved community.
  124         2. The applicant must demonstrate a meaningful commitment
  125  to sell fresh fruits and vegetables, according to a measurable
  126  standard established by the department.
  127         3. Generally, the applicant must accept vouchers issued by
  128  the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and be able to
  129  serve clients of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for
  130  Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). The department shall
  131  establish an alternative standard for demonstrating a meaningful
  132  commitment to making healthy food affordable to low-income
  133  households for categories of program applicants that are not
  134  eligible to accept vouchers issued under the Supplemental
  135  Nutrition Assistance Program or serve WIC clients.
  136         (g) In order to determine the amount of funding to award,
  137  project applicants shall be evaluated on the following criteria:
  138         1. Demonstrated capacity to successfully implement the
  139  project, including the applicant’s relevant experience, and the
  140  likelihood that the project will be economically self
  141  sustaining.
  142         2. The ability of the applicant to repay debt.
  143         3. The degree to which the project requires an investment
  144  of public funding to move forward, create impact, or be
  145  competitive, and the level of need in the area to be served.
  146  Additional factors that will improve or preserve retail access
  147  for low-income residents, such as proximity to public transit
  148  lines, may also be taken into account.
  149         4. The degree to which the project will promote sales of
  150  fresh produce, particularly locally grown fruits and vegetables.
  151         5. The degree to which the project will have a positive
  152  economic impact on the underserved community, including creating
  153  or retaining jobs for local residents.
  154         6. Other criteria the department determines to be
  155  consistent with the purposes of this section.
  156         (h) The department shall establish program benchmarks and
  157  reporting processes to make certain that the program benefits
  158  both rural and urban communities. The department shall also
  159  establish monitoring and accountability mechanisms for projects
  160  receiving funding, such as tracking fruit and vegetable sales
  161  data.
  162         (i) The department shall prepare and submit an annual
  163  report to the Legislature, including outcome data, on any
  164  projects funded.
  165         (5) To the extent practicable, funds described in this
  166  section may be used to leverage other funding, including, but
  167  not limited to, the New Markets Tax Credits Program, federal and
  168  foundation grants, incentives available to federally designated
  169  Empowerment Zones or Renewal Communities, operator equity, and
  170  funding from private sector financial institutions under the
  171  federal Community Reinvestment Act of 1977.
  172         (6) The department may adopt rules as necessary to
  173  administer this section.
  174         Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2012.