North Carolina

State & Local Policy Efforts

North Carolina Healthy Food Small Retailer Program

Since 2013, the North Carolina Alliance for Health and its members and partners have advocated for the creation of a statewide Healthy Corner Store Initiative. Members and partners include the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, North Carolina Alliance of YMCA’s, MomsRising, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, North Carolina Conservation Network, Youth Empowered Solutions, Self-Help Credit Union, North Carolina Dietetic Association, The Food Trust, and many more. The state budget passed in 2016 included $250,000 to pilot the initiative, formally known as the Healthy Food Small Retailer Program. The 2017 state budget included an additional $250,000 in funding. The program is housed in the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

For more information visit or email [email protected].

The North Carolina Alliance for Health and partners continue to advocate for recurring funds for the program. 

Background and Advocacy: North Carolina Alliance for Health

In the spring of 2013, in response to food access issues in her own district, Representative Yvonne Holley (D-Wake) introduced House Bill 957, Food Desert Zones, raising the level of awareness of food access issues with the Speaker of the House and other majority party lawmakers. This bill resulted in the House Committee on Food Desert Zones, which held four meetings between January and April 2014. Throughout the winter and early spring, the North Carolina Alliance for Health and partners worked extensively with the chairs of the Committee, Representatives Edgar Starnes (R-Caldwell) and Chris Whitmire (R- Henderson, Polk, Transylvania), who later became a primary sponsor of HB 250, to develop agendas for the committee meetings. The House Study Committee on Food Desert Zones issued recommendations during its final meeting in April 2014.

On March 17, 2015, HB 250, Healthy Food Small Retailer/Corner Store Act and companion bill SB 296 were filed. The primary sponsors of HB 250 were Representative Yvonne Holley (D-Wake), Chris Whitmire (R-Henderson, Polk, Transylvania), Brian Brown (R-Pitt), and Donny Lambeth (R-Forsyth). The primary sponsors of HB 296 were Senators Don Davis (D-Greene, Lenoir, Pitt, Wayne) and Louis Pate (R-Lenoir, Pitt, Wayne). On June 18, 2015, HB 250 passed the full House by a vote of 82-32 and $1 million was included in the House’s version of the budget. Neither HB 250 nor SB 296 were considered by the Senate that year. However, on July 1, 2016, the NC General Assembly passed budget adjustments, which included $250,000 for the creation of a statewide Healthy Corner Store Initiative. On June 28, 2017, the General Assembly passed a new budget, which also included $250,000 for the program.

For a full understanding of Healthy Food Financing Initiatives from advocacy to implementation, see The Food Trust’s Healthy Food Financing Handbook.

Federal Policy Efforts (State-specific)

Goler CDC was incorporated in 1998 as the nonprofit development arm of Goler Memorial AME Zion Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The mission of the organization is to improve the quality of life of low resource by developing empowerment programs by promoting employment and entrepreneurial opportunities. Goler CDC has also worked closely with the City of Winston-Salem to develop affordable housing and programs to address food deserts in impoverished neighborhoods.

Goler CDC is opening a restaurant called "Zestos" in the eastern part of Winston-Salem which is a predominately African-American community. The area has been designated a food desert with very few eating options for the residents. The organization was able to acquire a former Church's Chicken and renovate the 2000 square foot building which had become an eyesore in the community. Goler was able to leverage $360,000 from the City of Winston to help pay for equipment and provide operating capital. We have currently hired 32 individuals from the community and they are being trained for an anticipated mid-May 2018 opening.

Source of money: HFFI CED Program; Fiscal year(s): 2015

Located in Asheville, North Carolina, Green Opportunities (GO) is using HFFI financing to support and start-up capital for three food-related social enterprises: an urban agriculture enterprise, a community kitchen, and a grocery store. GO is also converting a closed elementary school into a community center/workforce training center and incubator. The social enterprises will create at least 34 full-time jobs for mostly low-income people along the French Broad River and improve access to fresh, affordable, and nutritious foods.
Urban Garden: Gardens United, the urban agriculture enterprise, currently includes gardens in Pisgah View and Hillcrest Housing Developments. GO is working with growers to develop organizational structures and a business plan for year-round food production. Food grown will be sold through a variety of outlets and distributed to residents of the community. Additional land will be cultivated at the W.C. Reid Center once renovations are complete.
Community Kitchen: Building on GO’s Kitchen Ready culinary training program, the Community Kitchen prepares healthy meals from fresh, local produce. Sandwiches, wraps and healthy snacks are made from scratch and are affordable to residents living in food deserts.
Grocery Store: The third food-related social enterprise includes a venue for selling and distributing fresh, affordable food. Feasibility studies are currently being conducted with local partners. The store will sell produce from the gardens and meals from the kitchen in addition to a variety of affordable groceries.
Projected Impacts

  • Address food insecurity by improving access to fresh, affordable, nutritious foods in Asheville’s food deserts
  • Empower low-income individuals to participate in community food security efforts
  • At least 34 full-time jobs created, for mostly low-income people

Source of money: HFFI CED Program; Fiscal year(s): 2012

Self-Help Federal Credit Union is a certified CDFI that creates and protects ownership and economic opportunity for all, especially people of color, rural residents, and low-wealth families and communities. Our financial products include auto, personal, and home loans; checking and savings accounts; and commercial lending to businesses, community development projects, and non-profit organizations.  SHFCU has the advantage of drawing on the collective capacity of the full Self-Help organization, a family of affiliates that has three decades of experience in delivering $7.5 billion in financing to more than 134,000 families, individuals, businesses, and organizations nationwide.

Self-Help’s healthy food lending history dates back to 1988 when we made a series of small loans that helped to establish a community-based cooperative grocer. We aim to support the entire food system and seek out borrowers that are committed to protecting the environment and creating quality jobs. Self-Help’s affiliates have provided 34 loans totaling more than $9 million within the healthy foods sector, reaching food co-ops, local grocers, distributors, and sustainable producers. Self-Help also plays a role as a non-profit real estate developer and property manager. In this capacity, the organization just completed a facility for a startup food cooperative in Durham, North Carolina and is breaking ground on a similar co-op project in Greensboro, NC.
Self-Help Federal Credit Union is using HFFI financing to support its Healthy Foods System Lending Initiative, which will provide essential growth capital to improve the health and quality of life in low-wealth communities in North Carolina and other states.
Projects & Impacts

  • A $2,470,000 loan to provide construction-to-permanent financing for the expansion of an established healthy foods co-op in rural (small town) Western North Carolina. The co-op will now have a total square footage of 12,800. The co-op also received further funding from several sources for this expansion - $300,000 loan from NCIF, $450,000 loan from NCDF and a $50,000 loan from Mountain BizWorks. Not part of an urban planning strategy.
  • A $371,600 loan to an urban startup grocery store and café that are focused on local sourcing and community involvement in a Southwest Los Angeles food desert. The loan leveraged $371,600 with partner lender the National Cooperative Bank. Total square footage of the project is 3,000. Not part of an urban planning strategy.
  • A $268,000 loan to allow a woman-owned business to purchase the necessary equipment and make renovations to help teach healthy cooking to the community, including low wealth and low-income families. This 1,045 square foot project is located in an urbanized area (small town) in Central North Carolina. The loan is not part of an urban planning strategy and didn’t leverage outside funds.

Source of money: HFFI CDFI-Financial Assistance Program; Fiscal year(s): 2013, 2015