South Carolina Community Loan Fund (SCCLF) is excited to announce that we have received a $255,000 grant from BlueCross® BlueShield® of South Carolina Foundation to support our efforts to increase access to healthy food in underserved communities throughout South Carolina. SCCLF is one of 13 organizations to receive a grant during the Foundation’s spring funding round.

SCCLF will use this funding to increase the deployment of capital to support healthy food outlets in food deserts and other underserved communities throughout South Carolina. SCCLF’s healthy food initiative is rooted not only in providing affordable and flexible loans for healthy food projects, but also in the extensive technical assistance offered to potential borrowers. SCCLF will use the capital received from the Foundation to enhance the technical assistance services available for those interested in developing healthy food businesses in South Carolina through the Feeding Innovation healthy food business incubator program.

SCCLF’s Feeding Innovation program is an eight week entrepreneurial training program featuring NxLevel Courses facilitated by Clemson Extension. The courses cover everything needed to develop a basic healthy food business plans from marketing to financial planning to negotiations and deal-making. With help from the course instructor and industry experts, participants refine their ideas and develop their business plans over the eight week period before presenting them to a panel of judges during a final pitch event. The entrepreneur with the strongest business plan is awarded $12,500 in seed capital. SCCLF has hosted nine Feeding Innovation rounds since the program was established in 2014. These programs have brought in a total of 85 participants, resulting in the completion of 63 healthy food business plans.

The $255,000 grant from the Foundation will allow SCCLF to expand the Feeding Innovation program to additional communities and enhance the services offered to participants. SCCLF plans to offer more online course content, create an alumni network and additional learning opportunities for past participants, and improve data collection and program evaluation methods to inform future programming.

For more information on Feeding Innovation or how to become a participant visit sccommunityloanfund.org/feeding-innovation or contact SCCLF’s Program Manager, Kelly Sharkey at kelly@sccommunityloanfund.org.

The BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.