Mayor Sharon Weston Broome’s administration will launch a new initiative in November aimed at increasing access to fresh foods in underserved neighborhoods in East Baton Rouge Parish.
Rowdy Gaudet, assistant chief administrative officer, says the administration is planning on a mid-month launch of the Healthy Food Retail Initiative, which is an incentive program providing flexible financing options for grocers that agree to open in a food desert.
For the initiative, the administration is working with Hope Enterprise Corporation of the Mid-South, a Jackson, Mississippi-based credit union, to provide loans to eligible grocers planning to open stores in certified food deserts in the parish, and Pennsylvania-based The Food Trust, a nonprofit. The city-parish is also pairing with Together Baton Rouge, Baton Rouge Area Chamber and Baton Rouge North Economic Development District on the project.
The $1.8 million contract with Hope is paid through $750,000 from the city-parish’s general fund, $750,000 from Community Development Block Grant funds and $300,000 from the mayor’s Healthy Baton Rouge program.
Read a recent Business Report article about the program.