From El Paso Inc: County looks for entrepreneurs to fight food insecurity problem

Food City owner Carlos Lowery shows off the local organic produce at the grocery store at 5400 Alameda. (Photo by El Paso Inc staff)

Food City owner Carlos Lowery shows off the local organic produce at the grocery store at 5400 Alameda. (Photo by El Paso Inc staff)

Written by Sara Sanchez

More than 160,000 people in El Paso County live out of reach of healthy foods, either physically or financially. That number, about a fifth of El Paso’s population, includes more than 52,000 children.

A new food financing initiative has been launched in El Paso to battle the food insecurity problem.

El Paso County Commissioner David Stout is spearheading the Healthy Food Financing Initiative, a pool of funding that provides a combined $1 million in grants or loans to food-providing businesses to expand or create healthier options in El Paso’s food deserts and low-income neighborhoods.

The Healthy Food Financing Initiative, or HFFI, is a collaboration between the county and the Paso Del Norte Institute for Healthy Living. The initiative is the first of its kind in any Texas county, Stout said. The first HFFI was created in Pennsylvania in 2004.

The Institute for Healthy Living commissioned the Food for Every Child study, published in 2017, that examined food security in the region. The city has fewer supermarkets per capita than places of similar size, and about 20% of El Paso’s residents live out of reach of a supermarket.

Leah Whigham, the institute’s executive director, said she hopes the HFFI projects can help address the need for healthy food options in the county’s food deserts. Continue reading