December 4, 2023 (BOSTON, MA) – About Fresh, a nonprofit dedicated to providing healthy food to communities that cannot afford it, has secured a $988,000 loan from the Healthy Retail and Commerce Fund to support the growth of its Fresh Truck and Fresh Connect programs. The fund is administered by Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) and Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation (MHIC). HRCF unlocks matching capital from hospitals and health plans to provide patient, low-cost loans to small businesses and nonprofits that positively impact community health in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods across New England.
“This HRCF loan is accelerating our organizational development and product innovation as we pursue an ambitious plan to scale our impact,” said About Fresh CEO Josh Trautwein. “Building tech is especially challenging for a nonprofit because we don’t have access to typical commercial or venture financing. This loan is allowing us to make important initial investments in growth scaffolding and gives us the latitude to raise supplementary capital.”
The loan will allow About Fresh to upgrade industrial refrigeration for its Fresh Truck program, cover one year of lease payments at its headquarters in Roxbury, and accelerate the development of the Fresh Connect program’s data infrastructure, critical to the organization’s growth plan.
“Low-income neighborhoods have lacked access to critical resources like healthy food for decades, and About Fresh aims to change that,” said Gina Foote, CLF’s Director of Impact Investment. “Supporting this small business with an innovative high impact investment has the potential to build a healthy community. We’re proud to support a thriving small business like About Fresh trying to improve their neighborhood.”
“Access to healthy, affordable food makes a measurable impact on low-income neighborhoods including the health and wellbeing of all residents,” said MHIC President & CEO Moddie Turay. “We are proud to invest and unlock other high-impact funds that otherwise would not be available to small businesses like About Fresh, an innovative organization committed to serving local communities in such a meaningful way.”
“Investing in this local business is a win-win. Lack of access to healthy and affordable food increases susceptibility to a variety of serious illnesses, including cancer, while also contributing to worse outcomes for patients living with this disease,” said Magnolia Contreras, Vice-President of Community Health at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. “An essential component of Dana-Farber’s mission is to address the root causes of health disparities that lead to cancer and we are proud to join CLF and MHIC in making this investment in the communities where our patients reside.”
“Poor health outcomes are the result of a multitude of inputs, including upstream factors such as access to healthy food, affordable housing, and jobs that pay a living wage. That’s why investments must also flow upstream to fund solutions and organizations like About Fresh,” said Erika Brice, Kresge Foundation social investment officer. “Kresge supported MHIC and CLF to do just that – to invest in upstream solutions that touch low wealth communities and draw in capital from health systems. We are excited to see forward-thinking health sector investors support this effort and know many Bostonians will have better access to healthy food because of it.”
About Fresh strengthens communities by getting fresh food to the households that need it most. Fresh Truck mobile markets bring fresh, affordable, and culturally-connected food to Boston low-income neighborhoods – including Dorchester, Roxbury, and others – and act as hubs for food culture celebrations, organizing, and activism. Fresh Connect is a technology platform that makes it possible for healthcare organizations to cover the cost of healthy food for low-income individuals and measure impact. The program allows participating doctors to prescribe healthy food and provides patients with a Fresh Connect Visa debit card to buy approved healthy foods at participating retail locations, reducing diet-related chronic illness in a cost-effective manner.
Conservation Law Foundation protects New England’s environment for the benefit of all people. We use the law, science, and the market to create solutions that preserve natural resources, build healthy communities, and sustain a vibrant regional economy. CLF’s approach to environmental advocacy is distinguished by our close involvement with local communities; our ability to design and implement effective strategies; and our capacity for developing innovative and economically sound solutions to our region’s most critical environmental challenges. Learn more at www.clf.org.
Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation (MHIC) is a private, nonprofit lender and investor specializing in financing affordable housing and community development throughout New England. It was founded in 1990 by a consortium of banks and other corporate investors to fill a critical gap in meeting the credit needs of developers who could not get financing for certain projects from traditional lenders. To date, MHIC has provided more than $3.2 billion in financing. That financing represents the preservation or creation of 25,500 homes and 6.9 million square feet of commercial and community space. For more information, see www.mhic.com