$100,000 Hunger Mountain Co-op Investment to Support VCLF’s Food, Farms & Forests Fund
MONTPELIER Hunger Mountain Co-op, Montpelier’s community-owned natural food cooperative, has announced it will invest $100,000 in the Vermont Community Loan Fund in support of the Loan Fund’s Food, Farms & Forests Fund.
The Co-op’s Chief Financial Officer Tim Wingate made the announcement on October 16th, after the investment was approved by the Co-op Council.
The Vermont Community Loan Fund, a nonprofit, mission-driven, alternative lender, provides loans and other resources to local businesses, community organizations & nonprofits, early care & learning providers and developers of affordable housing who don’t qualify for a loan from a traditional lender.
The Loan Fund established its Food, Farms & Forests Fund (FFF) in 2015 to expand lending and business support services for Vermont’s small farms, food producers and working lands entrepreneurs. The growing portfolio of FFF borrowers now includes farms and agricultural operations, food producers, business incubators, wholesalers and retailers including grocery stores, co-ops, CSAs and farmers markets, forestry and forest product enterprises, land stewardship and other natural resources organizations.
“The Hunger Mountain Co-op’s mission supports community and building healthy communities, especially around issues of food,” commented the Co-op’s Chief Financial Officer Tim Wingate. “So our goals are closely aligned with those of the Vermont Community Loan Fund, and its Food, Farms & Forests Fund in particular,” he added.
The Co-op used VCLF financing in 1996 to expand their retail site from 2,000 to 10,000 square feet. Subsequent expansions have built out the facility to its current size of 20,000 square feet.
“We credit the Loan Fund with getting us up and running, helping us grow,” he added. “We now have 160 employees, 491 Vermont vendors, and 8,720 member-owners,” he added.
Wingate also noted that many growers and producers whose goods line the Co-op’s shelves are themselves Loan Fund borrowers: Butterfly Bakery of Vermont, Greenfield Highland Beef, Vermont Smoke & Cure, AquaViTea Kombucha, and Olivia’s Croutons to name a few.
“We’re honored that our long time neighbor (and borrower success story!) Hunger Mountain Co-op has made this commitment to our innovative Food, Farms & Forests Fund. said the Loan Fund’s Executive Director Will Belongia. “The missions and goals of the Co-op and VCLF overlap significantly. We both work to sustain, grow and strengthen Vermont’s agricultural economy. This investment represents a true joint effort, putting local assets and energy to use improving our shared community. We’re grateful to all of our hundreds of investors – individuals, organizations, businesses and more – who activate their idle assets for the greater good by investing in the Loan Fund. We welcome Hunger Mountain Co-op to our community!” Belongia added.
Wingate noted that beyond the financial returns yielded by the investment, “the social returns are tremendously important,” he said. “This investment capital is there to help some potential food producers whose products will be on our shelves in the future. And, we’re keeping money in the community.”
About the Vermont Community Loan Fund
Since 1987, the Vermont Community Loan Fund has loaned $105 million to local businesses, affordable housing developers and community-based organizations that has created or preserved 6,100 jobs; built or rehabilitated 4,000 affordable homes; created or preserved quality care for over 4,000 children and their families; and supported community organizations providing vital services to hundreds of thousands of Vermonters. Additionally, the Loan Fund’s Food, Farms & Forests Fund has led to 7,329,380 pounds of food having been generated by Vermont farmers and producers, and 19,457 Vermont acres under production, since 2015. The Loan Fund also offers specialized training and business coaching to its borrowers, teaching a broad range of skills to ensure their success. Learn more about investing or borrowing at: www.investinvermont.org
About Hunger Mountain Co-op
Hunger Mountain Cooperative exists to create and sustain a vibrant community of healthy individuals, sustainable local food systems, and thriving cooperative commerce. hungermountain.coop