The smell of freshly grilled meat wafted through the Broad Street Market courtyard today, tempting Pennsylvania officials visiting with good news in hand.
Gov. Tom Wolf announced the state will roll out its Fresh Food Financing Initiative COVID-19 Relief Fund to help struggling food providers like the market and its vendors provide consumers with fresh food in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Everyone was affected in terms of access to food,” Wolf said. “It’s important throughout that we assured every Pennsylvanian had access to healthy fresh food.”
The $10 million coming from federal CARES Act funding will be used to ensure food access and security in the state. Wolf said the first round of funding for food providers was focused on large grocery stores, but this time the focus is farmers markets and small grocers.
The money will help offset costs that would otherwise be passed to consumers, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding explained.
Eligible businesses must have 50% of sales from providing customers staple and perishable food items. In an effort to ensure equity, the retailer must live in a low-to-moderate income area and accept SNAP and WIC benefits or have plans to.
Wolf said that, because the Broad Street Market provides fresh food to an area he classifies as a food desert, it’s a prime example of a business they want to help.
“Three days a week, the market provides fresh produce that would otherwise be unavailable in this area,” he said. “We are going to give priorities to places like this.”
The funding is available to for-profit, nonprofit or cooperative entities impacted by the crisis. This includes grocery stores, corner stores, convenience stores, markets and bodegas, among others. Wolf added that prioritization will be given to minority and, specifically, Black-owned-businesses serving low-income communities of color.
The program is administered by the Department of Agriculture in partnership with the Department of Community and Economic Development. They will accept applications through Aug. 14. Grant funds anywhere from $100,000 to $1 million will be given to eligible applicants for impacts related to COVID-19.
Funds can be used for expenses such as equipment purchases, renovations, refrigeration updates, costs to expand access to PA-grown produce, among other one-time expenses related to COVID-19, Wolf said.
Wolf said that funds from the Food Financing Initiative could possibly go to the Broad Street Market as a whole or to specific vendors within. With the market losing about three to five vendors due to the pandemic, the grant could help keep others in business.
“Every stand that closes is one less place that members of the community can buy fresh food,” Wolf said.
The Broad Street Market is located at 1233 N. 3rd St., Harrisburg. For more information on the Fresh Food Financing Initiative COVID-19 Relief Fund, visit the Department of Agriculture’s website.