South Carolina

State & Local Policy Efforts

South Carolina Healthy Food Financing Initiative

During the 2016 legislative session, the S.C. General Assembly appropriated $250,000 for the creation of the South Carolina Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI). The program seeks to increase access to healthy food for the more than one million South Carolina residents who live in food deserts. It is a public-private partnership that supports local farmers and businesses by providing access to loans to support the establishment, renovation or expansion of different food projects, including farm businesses, mobile markets, small food stores, and grocery stores. The program is designed to provide flexible financing for the start-up, rehabilitation or expansion of businesses and nonprofits. To be eligible, applicants seeking financing must be located in a designated Food Desert Area or Low Supermarket Access Community. Nonprofit organizations, for profit entities, and municipalities may apply for funding.

The South Carolina HFFI is administered by the South Carolina Community Loan Fund (SCCLF), a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that has been lending in South Carolina communities since 2007. In addition to originating loans, SCCLF provides technical assistance services to applicants for financial support.

Background and Advocacy

In 2013, borne out of the SC Food Policy Council and with support from the South Carolina Department of Agriculture, the SCCLF convened the South Carolina Food Access Task Force. The task force developed five public policy recommendations to improve the availability of healthy, affordable food in underserved areas. These recommendations are rooted in a strategy that addresses capital, affordability, supply, planning and transportation. Number one on the list of recommendations was the need to develop a healthy food financing initiative to provide capital to support the establishment, renovation, or expansion of different food projects, including food hubs, farm businesses, mobile markets, small food stores, and grocery stores that make available affordable, local, and healthy food.

In 2015, SCCLF partnered with the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League, Eat Smart Move More SC, and the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) to advocate for funding to support the Healthy Food Financing Initiative. As a result of these efforts, the South Carolina General Assembly included $250,000 in the state budget for the Healthy Food Financing Initiative in 2015. Due to the advocacy of SCCLF and partners, in June 2016, South Carolina General Assembly ratified the state’s budget which included an appropriation of $250,000 for the Health Food Financing Initiative. For update-to-date information about these advocacy efforts, visit the CFSA website here.

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)

Founded in 2007, The Butterfly Foundation is in the business of human development by providing life coaches to our participants to assist in the areas of education, job readiness and training, and adequate housing. 
The Butterfly Foundation used HFFI financing to support the creation of a Healthy Food Hub, The Monarch and Fresh Food Store,  located in a food desert on the North Side of Spartanburg, SC. The facility opened November 8, 2014, and includes a Café, Retail Store, Community Rooms, Incubator Kitchen, Urban Gardens and Farmers Market. Since the grant awarded by The Department of Health and Human Services, The Butterfly Foundation and Partners have raised and leveraged an additional $973,000 for the construction of the site. In addition, The University of South Carolina received $1,496,228 in funding from the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health to conduct a survey and collect data on the benefits of locating a healthy food hub in a community with limited food access. The Butterfly Foundation’s partners include the City of Spartanburg, Northside Development Corporation, Hub City Farmers Market, Duke Energy Foundation, Smith Foundation, SC Association of Community Development Corps., University of South Carolina, and Women Giving of Spartanburg. The facility approximately 4000 square ft., and the site covers approximately one acre of land. HFFI funds were used for the completion of construction of the facility and development of the entire site.
Projected Impacts

  • Job training in the food service industry for unemployed, underemployed, previously incarcerated and homeless adults
  • Create Healthy Food Hub in Spartanburg food desert including a Café, Retail Store, Community Rooms, Incubator Kitchen, Urban Gardens and Farmers Market
  • 23 full-time jobs created

Source of money: HFFI CED Program; Fiscal year(s): 2011

South Carolina Community Loan Fund (SCCLF, formerly the Lowcountry Housing Trust) is a regional lender that raises and pools capital from public and private investments to create a revolving loan fund that finances critically needed community development projects. Its mission is to support the development of vibrant, sustainable communities by providing loans, technical assistance, and advocacy for affordable housing, healthy food retail, community facilities, and community businesses. Since its inception in 2004, CLF has infused more than $23.7 million in loans into the community, creating 1,152 units of affordable housing, four healthy food outlets, five community facilities, five community businesses, and 2,685 jobs in the process. 
Through its Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI), SCCLF finances the construction and renovation of healthy food enterprises including (not limited to) grocery stores, corner stores, farmers markets, food hubs, and mobile markets selling healthy food in underserved communities. SCCLF staff has been specially trained by national experts such as UpLift Solutions and US Treasury on underwriting healthy food loans. Since its healthy food financing initiative began in 2011, SCCLF has underwritten and approved over $3.1 million in healthy food loans.
HFFI Projects and Impacts

SBFO Columbia (Save A Lot Grocery, Honor Capital): Urban supermarket located in Columbia, SC. Developed by Honor Capital, a veteran owned business. The 12,000 SF grocery store is located in a building owned by the Columbia Housing Authority, which leased the space to Honor Capital at a favorable rate. $500,000 in financing used for machinery and equipment to upfit the store. The neighborhood, redeveloped by the Columbia Housing Authority in the early 2000s, incorporates housing and access to community services like a credit union, grocery store, and health center.

Second Harvest: Urban food bank located in Charlotte, NC but serving counties in SC. SCCLF and Reinvestment Fund were leverage lenders on this $13M NMTC deal. Second Harvest expanded its facility, nearly doubling its size. The expansion included two parcels of land, one owned by the City of Charlotte and one owned by Mecklenburg County. Favorable lease rates will be offered for use of both parcels. SCCLF loaned $1M into this project. 

Market on Main: Rural market located in Lake View, SC.  $75,000 for renovation, working capital, and machinery and equipment. Lake View, where the project is located, has been crippled by losing its grocery store (IGA Supermarket) due to mismanagement. Lake View was once a thriving small town that supported three small grocery stores. After some industry moved out, it is a community in need of jobs and a food supply. The closest store to purchase fresh meats, produce, dairy and dry goods is 10 miles away and in the state of NC. Market on Main, a 2080 sf facility, will provide better quality nutritional options for its customers and community at an affordable price.

Honor Capital (Save A Lot Grocery), Aiken: Supermarket in Aiken SC (population roughly 30k) developed by Honor Capital, a veteran owned business. The 12,000 sf facility was financed with $400k of SCCLF funds and equity from the developer. Funds were used for store update, reset & cleaning, machinery & equipment maintenance, restocking inventory and working capital.

Elijah Craig, LLC (Save A Lot Grocery), Florence: Urban Supermarket. 15,530 sf $500,000 financing for machinery, equipment & fixtures, inventory and working capital. City of Florence gave a $300,000 grant to the project; the Housing Authority owns the land where the grocery store will locate. This project is part of the downtown revitalization strategy, which includes a food overlay district.
Source of money: HFFI CDFI-Financial Assistance Program; Fiscal year(s): 2011