Today’s customers demand transparency about their food sources. For Whole Foods Market, that has led to success, made possible by prioritizing sourcing channels while helping small farmers and business owners build their operations along the way. The Local Producer Loan Program, overseen by Erin Harper since 2012, has distributed nearly $20 million in loans to help small producers, farmers and artisans expand. The low-interest loans are typically in the $1,000-$100,000 range and have funded groundbreaking growing methods, new product categories and supply chain improvements. Harper also spearheaded a robust mentoring and education program for recipients, offering them access to Whole Foods’ regional and global experts to help grow their businesses. Under Harper’s management, the loan program has tripled its annual loan count to 60 and quadrupled the amount loaned each year to $4 million. Harper has long been drawn to the “sense of discovery” at Whole Foods — and now it happens in the field, as well.
A note about coronavirus (COVID-19)
We know the COVID-19 situation is evolving quickly. We’re as concerned as you are about keeping our staff and our community safe, and we’re tracking the situation closely with the guidance of public health experts. All RISE Up materials continue to be available online so you can use the RISE Up program remotely with your students. View our RISE Up Online Delivery – FAQs here and access NRF’s COVID-19 resources here.