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Sustainable Food Systems

Building a Healthier and More Sustainable Food System

Our food system lending addresses health, economic and social disparities across the country through targeted lending to food businesses and organizations that aim to improve our food system. Guided by principles of sustainability and social justice, we lend to help improve the health and well-being of our communities.

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Food Systems Finance

Farmer-Owned Hub and Co-op: A Perfect Match

Two Self-Help investments—a farmer-owned food hub and a neighborhood cooperative grocery—work symbiotically to create a sustainable food system:

Eastern Carolina Organics (ECO), a wholesale distributor of local organic produce, has been instrumental in transitioning tobacco farmers to organic produce. ECO returns 80% of every retail dollar to family farms in the region.

The Durham Co-op Market and its 2,000 members buy their produce from ECO. Plus the Co-op gets its meat from a sustainable niche meat aggregator that rents space and shares infrastructure with ECO.

Learn more about our food system loans.


Equitable Food Systems Capital Initiative

With support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Self-Help aims to increase capital access across the food system spectrum. We seek to fill in lending gaps for innovative borrowers most in need. Success means helping food entrepreneurs achieve economic security for their own families while also expanding the delivery of healthy food, with all its benefits, in their local communities.

Our strategy is to complement Self-Help’s financing experience with the strengths of partner organizations. We are connected with a national web of lenders and organizations that also have capabilities for improving capital access to underserved food entrepreneurs. Working with other community development financial institutions (CDFIs), we seek to expand the impact of healthy food initiatives by delivering capital to the broader chain of people who make it happen—aggregators, processors, distributors, schools and other key anchor institutions. For more information, check out this Healthy Food System Capital Initiative Overview


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In 2005, Tracy Scott decided to lose weight and eat healthier foods. Her goals led her to create her own delicious salad dressings. Today, Tracy is not only on a healthier path herself—she’s the owner of Tracy’s Gourmet, a business that helps others eat better, too.

Self-Help Healthy Food System Capital Initiative Events Calendar

See full events calendar here.