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For the safety of our members and staff, a face covering must be worn by anyone entering the branch, in accordance with public health guidelines. See more COVID-19 updates here.

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.

Stay informed with our weekly news update.

Lending to Build Stronger Food Systems

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.


Working with Partners for More Equitable Food Systems

With support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Self-Help aims to increase access to capital for food and farm entrepreneurs. We seek to fill in lending gaps for innovative borrowers most in need by partnering with a national web of lenders and organizations that provide capital and business development resources for underserved food entrepreneurs. 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.

 For more information, check out this Healthy Food System Capital Initiative Overview.


Alleviating Childhood Hunger in North Carolina and Beyond

Self-Help has committed to working with partnering organizations to end childhood hunger. This has included a variety of efforts, such as:

On the national level. Every five years Congress passes a Farm Bill, which shapes key national policies on food, agriculture and rural development. In 2017, Self-Help joined with long-time experts National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition to advocate for policies that affect communities we serve, especially members in rural areas.  Read more about our history serving rural communities alongside USDA here.


Weekly News Update

Sign up for our "Weekly News Update" email to stay up to date on relevant news, research and policy work.

Looking for a previous email? Check out our archive below.


To view older updates, click here for our archived updates.

Stephanie Terry

Stephanie Terry and her husband Michael started their own vegan catering business, Sweeties Southern & Vegan Catering in Durham, NC. A 2018 loan from Self-Help Credit Union provided the Terrys with funds to purchase new equipment and a cargo van.

Self-Help Healthy Food System Capital Initiative Events Calendar

See full events calendar here.