Exploring Food as an Economic Driver in North Carolina

The Food as an Economic Driver equitable food communities project aims to gather knowledge from local food systems entrepreneurs, and provide equitable financing and technical assistance to these entrepreneurs who are developing their local food community.

Ensuring local food systems entrepreneurs have access to equitable financing and learning how they are empowering their local food communities allows everyone, regardless of income and race, to partake in food systems, an elemental and necessary part of life.

To fill in lending gaps across the food system spectrum, Self-Help Credit Union, based in North Carolina, aims to deploy $15 million in loans to local food systems entrepreneurs across the nation in one year. These loans allow necessity-driven local entrepreneurs, who are providing a service to a community that is underserved or a service that did not previously exist, to sustain and expand their businesses. Examples include black-owned catering companies who work to provide good, sustainable, well-cooked food in an area that is underserved that serves their workers a living wage, but also serves as a source for farmers to purchase food and provide their workers a living wage.

In collaboration with Self-Help Credit Union, we will synthesize best practices from underrepresented local food entrepreneurs, and foster information sharing between food entrepreneurs by expanding creation of a food entrepreneur network.

Food as an Economic Driver


Project Team

  • Kharmika Alston, MPP
  • Jen Zuckerman, M.S.
  • Self-Help Credit Union