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Central // Central Oahu Coverstory
MidWeek Staff

Foundation Offers Micro-Loans To Food Startups

From young farmers to modest entrepreneurs, Feed The Hunger Foundation stands ready to help.

The local nonprofit recently won its own $1 million award from the Economic Development Administration of the Department of Commerce, and FTHF president Denise Albano is eager to distribute the windfall as micro-loans among low-income entrepreneurs and small businesses in the state’s food sector.

Albano said favored investments since 2009 have been to farmers bringing “new technology and resilience” to food production, and groups of food producers sharing infrastructure such as tractors, cold storage, packaging areas and storefronts.

“Two of our top goals,” she said, “are to build a diverse agriculture and aquaculture base, and to improve the food distribution system on Oahu.”

More than 35 low-income entrepreneurs earned a helping hand from FTHF over the past three years.

“There are many who would like to contribute to the movement for a self-sufficient food system in Hawaii,” explained FTHF chief executive officer Patti Chang, “but many are in need of funding to get their projects off the ground.”

Past support, for example, has gone to pay for equipment for an aquaponic fish and vegetable system, to a small cafe serving local ingredients, to a commercially licensed driver course, and to an ethnic foods business.

Ongoing loans are awarded, ranging from $2,000 to $100,000. To apply or for more information, email denisealbano@feed-hunger.com or visit feed-hunger.com.

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