Last week, we hosted orientation for Feeding Innovation: Upstate, a comprehensive technical assistance program designed to support entrepreneurs interested in developing or expanding healthy food businesses in underserved areas of the state. Examples of these types of businesses include farmers markets, mobile markets, corner stores, and CSAs. The goal of the program is to increase access to healthy food while supporting the development of strong, local entrepreneurs and community-based businesses.

The following businesses are participating in the challenge:

Good to Go Greenville: A mobile market offering fresh, local produce to low-income communities in Greenville.

Swamp Rabbit Café and Grocery: Provides local produce, meat, dry goods, and dairy products in a food desert located in Greenville.

Hub City Farmers Market: A mobile market distributing healthy, affordable food to a food desert located in Spartanburg.

Suburban Sharecrop, LLC: A local food distribution and retail outlet in Greer that utilizes a kiosk system to distribute locally-grown produce at a reduced business cost.

Dunean Mills Mobile Farmers Market: A mobile community farmers market in Greenville that provides access to fresh, locally sourced produce that accepts EBT/SNAP.

The Village Market: A non-profit grocery store offering low-cost fresh produce, dairy, and meat located in Greenville.

Urban Farm Truck: A mobile farmers market dedicated to providing local, healthy food to underserved communities in the Upstate.

Participants will engage in an 8-week entrepreneurial training program with NxLevel Courses, offered through Clemson Extension, and work one-on-one with a business mentor that will help and support you outside of weekly classes. The program culminates with a live pitch to a panel of judges, with each business plan 1) proposing an innovative, market-based, business-oriented solution to the issue of local, healthy food access; 2) targeting a community with limited access to healthy food; and 3) incorporating community engagement to ensure local needs are met. The selected entrepreneur receives $10,000 in seed capital for their business. At the end of the program, all participants should know what steps to take to grow their business and how they need to execute those steps.

For more information, please contact Anna Hamilton at anna@sccommunityloanfund.org.