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“We are excited to expand ‘fresh food financing’ from its strong start in the retail sector into the value chain,” said Sterling Speirn, president and CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, to an audience of more than 800 people at the Partnership for a Healthier America Summit, held last week in Washington, DC. The Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization created in conjunction with—but independent from—the First Lady’s Let’s Move! campaign to work with the private sector on addressing the childhood obesity crisis.

At the Summit, Speirn announced a $3 million commitment from the Kellogg Foundation to provide capital for financing retail, production, processing and distribution of fresh food to reach lower-income communities in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, and New Orleans. The capital will be made available through the foundation’s mission-driven investment work in partnership with NCB Capital Impact (Capital Impact) of Arlington, Va., a Community Development Financial Institution.

Speirn shared that loans will be made to retailers and food enterprises that provide small and mid-sized producers with infrastructure—including processing, manufacturing and distribution operations—that help bring their products to local markets. Loans will be made available for a period of two years beginning in 2011.

The Summit featured remarks by Michelle Obama, the First Lady of the United States, where she announced a renewed focus on physical activity for the Let’s Move! campaign. Other speakers included Bill Frist, a former Senate majority leader and Honorary Vice Chair of PHA; Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, New Jersey and Honorary Vice Chair of PHA; and many other leaders from the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. Over 40 of the Kellogg Foundation’s grantees were also in attendance.

The Summit also featured the Great American Family Dinner Challenge, which asked four James Beard award-winning chefs to create a healthy meal in 30 minutes for only $10. The meals were judged by two families selected by Parents and Ser Padres magazines, and the event was moderated by Sam Kass, the White House chef.

The Kellogg Foundation is a founding member of the Partnership for a Healthier America. Other founding members include:

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