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New initiative to help improve Kansans’ access to healthy food

By: David E. Procter, Ph.D., 
Guest Contributor

Kansas Food First Launch

As a leading agricultural producer, Kansas is often referred to as “the nation’s breadbasket.” Despite the moniker, 30 percent of all Kansas counties are rated as food deserts and more than 800,000 Kansans within those food deserts suffer from a lack of access to healthy foods. 

The Kansas Health Foundation launched the Kansas Healthy Food Initiative (KHFI) Nov. 6 at the Kansas Leadership Center in Wichita to help improve Kansans' access to healthy food.

KHFI Launch Photo

The kickoff of the $4.2 million initiative brought together more than 100 Kansas business owners, city officials, funders, Extension professionals and healthy food stakeholders to hear about the public-private partnership that aims to increase access to affordable fresh food to improve the health and economic development of Kansans and their communities. The KHFI provides evidence-based technical assistance for those seeking to strengthen access to healthy foods as well as financing through a mix of loans and grants to develop new or renovate fresh food retail in underserved communities throughout Kansas. The program works to bridge informational and financing gaps faced by healthy food stakeholders and food retailers operating in low- to moderate-income areas. 

The KHFI is a partnership between the Kansas Health Foundation, Kansas State University’s Center for Engagement and Community Development, IFF (a community development finance institution) and NetWork Kansas. The Food Trust is providing strategic guidance to this effort.

To access information about healthy food access or to determine eligibility for KHFI funding, contact the Kansas Healthy Food Initiative via the website: www.kansashealthyfood.org, by email: khfi@ksu.edu or by calling, 785-532-6868.



About the author:

David E. Procter, Ph.D. serves as a professor, Communication Studies; director, for the Center for Engagement and Community Development and the Director for the Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy at Kansas State University.

About NetWork Kansas:

NetWork Kansas was established as a component of the Kansas Economic Growth Act of 2004 to further entrepreneurship and small business growth as a priority for economic and community development in the State of Kansas. Backed by more than 500 partners statewide, the NetWork Kansas service promotes an entrepreneurial environment by connecting entrepreneurs and small business owners with the expertise, education and economic resources they need in order to succeed.

NetWork Kansas facilitates the development of an entrepreneurial ecosystem within participating communities through the E-Community Partnership. Contributing factors to successful development include availability of financial capital, support by local leadership and development of educational resources. All of these factors combine to increase entrepreneurial activity in participating towns, leading to increased startup activity, business expansion, job creation and more.

For more information about NetWork Kansas, visit www.networkkansas.com, or call 877.521.8600