WASHINGTON (11/12/10)--The Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund has selected the Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) to aid in its Healthy Food Financing Imitative. The food initiative will “provide critical training to CDFIs to utilize federal grants, below-market rate loans, loan guarantees and tax credits that can attract private sector capital for an even greater investment in projects that increase access to fresh produce and other healthy foods” in so-called “food deserts,” the CDFI Fund said in a release. The release defines “food deserts” as “urban neighborhoods and rural towns with limited access to affordable and nutritious food.” The CDFI Fund cited a United States Department of Agriculture estimate which stated that over 23 million Americans live in these “deserts.” “Well-targeted financing, technical assistance, and community partnerships can help to improve access to healthy foods, develop and equip grocery stores, create new markets for small businesses and farmers, strengthen the producer-to-consumer relationship, and support broader economic development efforts to revitalize distressed rural and urban communities,” the release added. CDFI Fund Director Donna Gambrell said that “the training enabled by the CDFI Fund's Capacity-Building Initiative will help to lay a strong foundation so that all CDFIs are prepared for the unique opportunities presented by funding that the Administration has requested in 2011 under the Healthy Food Financing Initiative.” The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions is one of many related organizations that are providing technical support to OFN. The OFN is a “network of private financial intermediaries identifying and investing in opportunities to benefit low-income and low-wealth people in the U.S.,” the release said, adding that the OFN has frequently worked with CDFIs in the past. For the full release, use the resource link.