Last week, we announced Fresh Future Farm (FFF) the winner of Feeding Innovation, our entrepreneurial business plan challenge. One of four finalists of the program, FFF demonstrates an innovative solution to meeting the needs of the local community by creating access to healthy food.

FFF is an urban farm and community food operation located in the Chicora-Cherokee community of North Charleston that hopes to stimulate social and economic environments. By leveraging unused city assets, FFF will create access to healthy, affordable food and job opportunities that will transform the current neighborhood into a more self-reliant, robust community.

FFF’s business plan incorporates a three-pronged approach to addressing the community’s access needs:

1.  Retail: The store will stock SNAP, WIC, and organic specialty items, as well as quick service, heat-and-eat lunch and dinner items.

2. Urban Farm: Produce sold in the FFF store will be grown on the farm utilizing organic farming practices, and a CSA will be available.

3. Education: Community members will learn food preparation and proper techniques utilizing the community kitchen.

FFF is currently negotiating a long-term lease for operation space, with the hope to launch the initiative by the winter.

CREATING ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY

Feeding Innovation was derived from numerous conversations around food deserts, a term used by industry professionals referring to communities that are void of grocery stores and lack access to healthy food. Our work in this arena stems from the belief that access to healthy food is as essential as affordable housing and community facilities in building sustainable, vibrant communities.

Food access spans beyond providing healthy food and encouraging healthy eating habits. It spurs economic growth by increasing revenue and supporting job creation. According to the Healthy Food Access Portal, healthy food retail:

Creates Jobs: A large, full-service grocery store employs 150-200 employees and has weekly sales of $200,000 to $300,000.

Increases Nearby Property Values: Subsequent to the opening of a supermarket, housing values experienced an immediate boost, ranging from 4 to 7 percent.

Contributes Food and Profits to Community: Many full-service grocery stores spur community development through local giving programs.

Brings Federal Dollars to the Local Economy: Grocery stores, corner stores, and farmers’ markets that accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and Women, Infants and Children (WIC) benefits bring federal dollars into communities and produce specific economic benefits for stores and broader economic stimulus across the state.

Through programs such as Feeding Innovation and our work with the SC Food Access Task Force, we will continue our efforts to increasing access to healthy, affordable food and thus, creating sustainable, vibrant communities throughout South Carolina.