The Sierra Healthy Refrigeration Program Has Launched in 16 Sierra Counties to Provide No-Cost Refrigerators to Increase Access to Healthy Foods

Mammoth Lakes, CA, November 28, 2022 – The High Sierra Energy Foundation (HSEF) and Sierra Business Council (SBC) are working together on the Sierra Healthy Refrigeration Program (SHRP), which will provide access to free refrigeration and bring healthy food options to low access areas. The organizations will conduct outreach and deliver technical expertise to small businesses, food donation centers, and tribal organizations in rural and hard-to-reach areas in the Sierra region.

This grant program is funded by the California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Farm-to-Fork (CDFA-F2F) and will be providing $18.6 million statewide for free energy efficient refrigeration units in low-income or low-access areas throughout the state. Refrigeration units are to be stocked with California-grown fresh produce, nuts, dairy, meat, eggs, minimally processed, and culturally appropriate foods.

Benefits of the SHRP include:
● Increasing access to healthy, fresh foods in low-income or low-access areas.
● Accelerating adoption of energy efficient refrigeration units by small businesses.
● Supporting California’s climate initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
generated by older, less efficient refrigeration units.

The successful implementation of this grant will include outreach, engagement, assistance with the refrigeration grant application and active participation in the equipment selection, funding and deployment portions of the program. The HSEF and SBC have been allies for nearly a decade on the Rural and Hard-to-Reach working group, sharing best practices and promoting the needs of rural ratepayers to the California Public Utilities Commission.

The HSEF and SBC will coordinate efforts to implement this program in 16 counties: Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, El Dorado, Inyo, Lassen, Mariposa, Mono, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sierra, Sutter, Tuolumne, and Yuba.

“The HSEF participated in the CDFA Healthy Stores Pilot Program, and although the pandemic presented significant challenges, the organization successfully implemented the program delivering units and increasing availability of fresh produce to hyper rural areas in the region,” said Pam Close Bold, Executive Director of the HSEF. She continued, “our two organizations’ goal is to increase the energy efficiency of stores’ refrigeration units and drive economic value to our local businesses, all while expanding access to healthy foods in food desert areas of the Sierra.”

The CDFA-F2F anticipates opening the first round of Requests for Applications for grant recipients in December 2022, with the application deadline in March of 2023.

Grant recipients must meet the following eligibility requirements:
• Corner stores, which include small-scale or grocery stores, that sell a limited selection of foods and other products, that are located in a low-income or low-food access areas.
• Small businesses including but not limited to small farm operations with farm stands or stores, that sell or donate food to low-income or low-food access clientele. Small businesses must be independently owned, with 100 or fewer employees, average annual gross receipts of $16 million or less, and, if conducting food sales, must be authorized to accept EBT/SNAP/CalFresh benefits.
• Food donation programs who donate food directly to low-income or low-food access clientele.
• Cities, counties, or Tribal governments that will apply for equipment and provide technical assistance to corner stores, small businesses, and/or food donation programs. To learn more about this grant program and to submit an Interest Form, visit SierraFridgeGrant.org.

About High Sierra Energy Foundation
The HSEF’s primary mission surrounds energy efficiency and sustainability. The organization has implemented the Eastern Sierra Green Business Program, a member of the California Green Business Network (CAGBN), for the past four years, originally in Mono County, but expanded to Inyo County in 2020. This program provides technical assistance to small businesses in the region, with energy efficiency being one of the primary focus areas. Learn more at highsierraenergy.org

Media contact: Pam Close Bold, Executive Director, [email protected] 760-914-3136

About Sierra Business Council
SBC is a nonprofit organization with a mission to catalyze and demonstrate innovative approaches and solutions to increase community vitality, economic prosperity, environmental quality, and social fairness in the Sierra Nevada. SBC implements the Sierra Nevada Energy Watch program in 14 counties and the California Green Business Network in two counties.

Learn more at sierrabusiness.org.
Media Contact: Katey Ford, Climate & Energy Planning Technician, [email protected]
530-214-3796

About California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Farm-to-Fork
The Office of Farm to Fork, located within the California Department of Food and Agriculture, is committed to helping all Californians access healthy and nutritious California-grown food. The Office of Farm-to-Fork connects school districts and community members directly with California’s farmers and ranchers, and provides information and other resources. In addition to the Healthy Refrigeration Grant Program, the CDFA-F2F manages the California Farm to School Program, the California Nutrition Incentive Program, the California Marketplace, and the California State Employees Food Drive.

Learn more at cafarmtofork.cdfa.ca.gov.
Media Contact: Joshua Bingham, Public Information Officer [email protected]

(From Mono County)

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