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Local First

Growing support for local growers

Our impact focus includes our commitment to increasing healthy food access while supporting local farmers.

As part of our work with the Michigan Good Food Fund, we brought together 13 early-stage grocers from across the state to explore how to elevate locally sourced food in the grocery setting.

Leading the charge was Argus Farm Stop. A hybrid café and year-round farmers market, Argus directs 75 cents of every $1 spent on local produce back to the farmer that grew it. Since 2014, it has expanded to two locations and paid $8+ million to local food producers, all within 50 miles of its Southeast Michigan headquarters.

Over the course of a three-day virtual training, the Argus team shared knowledge, tips, best practices, and lessons learned from its business model. The course included an overview of what it takes to open and operate this type of store model as well as how best to work with local farms to ensure fresh inventory. Detroit-based chef and restaurateur Rohani Foulkes and Washtenaw County Local Foods Coordinator Jae Gerhart augmented the training with their field insights.

The content resonated with participants, whose missions include making an investment in their communities, expanding access to healthy food, advancing food sovereignty, and increasing transparency in the food system.

From infrastructure to culture, the training set the stage for a new group of food leaders to launch businesses that generate benefits from farm to (every) fork.

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Food Finance Essentials

Growing entrepreneurs’ financial knowledge

“I have more knowledge about MY financial position than ever before. The homework was hands-on and allowed me to get into my numbers…and as a result, now I can make informed decisions.”

Food Finance Essentials Participant

This year we developed and delivered a Food Finance Essential training designed to support entrepreneurs in growing their financial knowledge and ultimately securing financing as their work expands.

Five Detroit-based businesses participated in the multi-week, online training that consisted of group sessions and 1:1 mentoring from seasoned advisors.

Entrepreneurs walked away with not just increased financial knowledge, but also three months of free accounting services. We continue to work with participating businesses into 2021, helping them update their business pitch decks.

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Chelsea Business Foundation

Supporting small and Latino-led businesses during COVID & beyond

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$37,500 Line of Credit

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Chelsea, Massachusetts

Chelsea was one of the cities in Massachusetts hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic. Though the city has just 40,000 residents, its infection rates in spring 2020 were on par with New York City and far outpaced surrounding communities.

Home to a majority Hispanic and Latino community, nearly 80 percent of Chelsea’s employed residents were deemed essential workers, according to an analysis by the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts. In addition, Chelsea is densely populated and its residents highly reliant on public transportation — all factors that contributed to devastating social and economic impacts as the cornovarius continued to rage.

Chelsea Business Foundation, a local nonprofit on a mission to promote a healthy business economy and support Latino and small businesses, took action to stabilize community businesses most impacted.

In December 2020, Fair Food Fund partnered with Boston Impact Initiative to provide Chelsea Business Foundation a line of credit, which it used to continue a business support grant program serving small and Latino-led businesses, approximately half of which are in the food sector.

As part of this work, Chelsea Business Foundation connected participating food businesses to a new market opportunity with a casino that is part of a high end hotel and resort in the area. Through targeted technical assistance, Chelsea Business Foundation helped the businesses prepare to work directly with the casino. This included shifts in their business models and operation as well as identification of a unique product or service to sell.

To date, Chelsea Business Foundation has supported 36 businesses with this program, which is not only helping these community-based businesses weather the COVID pandemic, but grow their customer base so that they can emerge stronger to support their community in the recovery to follow.

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Crooked Face Creamery

Woman-owned business supporting local dairy farmers

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$10,000 Loan

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Business Assistance

2017 business boot camp and additional customized pre- financing support

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Skowhegan, Maine

Crooked Face Creamery is an award-winning, artisan cheese maker based in Skowhegan, Maine.

Born into a milk-making family, owner Amy Rowbottom brings equal devotion to cheese craftsmanship, local dairy farms, and giving back to the community. All Crooked Face cheeses are handcrafted with limited ingredients and high-quality, preservative-free whole milk from a local farm. Current offerings include fresh and aged cheeses such as cold smoked ricotta, fresh ricotta, a Havarti-style cheese, and an aged raclette — all known for their creamy, rich flavor and texture.

In 2019, Rowbottom launched her own creamery and storefront where she could make, package, and sell her cheese alongside cured meats and other local provisions from over a dozen Maine producers. Fair Food Fund supported the expansion with a $10,000 loan that funded electrical and plumbing improvements. The investment also provided critical working capital as the pandemic continued to disrupt business and supply chains.

Despite the strains of COVID, Crooked Face Creamery’s business exploded in the past year, with a more than 1,000 percent increase in cheese sales from 2019 to 2020. In addition to retail sales, Crooked Face also is finding increased traction in wholesale markets. Such growth is allowing Rowbottom to hire her first part-time employee so she can focus exclusively on cheesemaking.

2021 is off to an equally strong start: Crooked Face Creamery rose to the top of more than 1,900 applicants to be a finalist in the 11th annual national Good Food Awards.

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Forty Acres Soul Kitchen

Black-owned business weaving together culture, community & great food

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$50,000 Loan

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Business Assistance

Post-financing curated support with industry expert on operational opportunity assessment

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Grand Rapids, Michigan

When we look at a business’ potential to advance environmentally and socially regenerative food systems, Forty Acres knocks it out of the park. Located in the mid-sized Midwestern city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, its impact extends far beyond the plate — from creating living-wage jobs to sourcing from area farms. In a city with nearly 20 percent Black residents, Forty Acres is also the only full-service, sit-down, 100% African American-owned restaurant.

In just the two years since its grand opening, Forty Acres had become a gathering place that wove together culture, community, and great food while bringing in approximately $1.3 million in revenue.

Then COVID hit.

The questions facing Forty Acres were daunting: What business models should they consider in order to remain viable through the pandemic? What capital, in what structure, and in what amounts would be most helpful? Could they maintain their vision of long-term expansion and if so, what did they need to put in place now? Who in their networks could they go to for appropriate financing, as well as broader thought partnership to tackle these questions?

Together with our Michigan Good Food Fund partners, we were able to provide flexible, working capital as Forty Acres navigated the early days of the COVID crisis. We also paid for a nationally recognized business consultant to provide support.

Throughout, we aimed to deliver responsive support that met Forty Acres’ immediate needs while helping position it with strong footing post-COVID so it can continue to be an anchor institution in its community while building toward its long-term vision of expansion.

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Cooking with Que

Black woman-owned business feeding her community

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$35,000 Loan

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Business Assistance

Pre-financing brand accelerator & post‑financing customized support focusing on financial operations and marketing

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Detroit, Michigan

“With Fair Food Network’s support, I was able to pivot my company to not only stay in business, but help feed my community through the pandemic. Having access to healthy food has never been more important — both to make it through this crisis and ensure we come back stronger.”

Quiana “Que” Broden

Cooking with Que, Detroit, MI

In spring 2019, Quiana “Que” Broden launched “The Kitchen, by Cooking with Que,” her eponymous state-of-the-art demonstration kitchen and shared culinary space in Detroit’s New Center neighborhood.

Through grit, determination, and an irrepressibly effervescent personality, Que’s business took off, growing month over month. In addition to cooking demonstrations, Que offered in-house meal service, catering and pop-ups, and team building events. But the service she became most known for was meal prep, which she added to her menu at the end of 2019.

Fair Food Network started working with Que in January 2019 through a six-week brand training we delivered as part of our work with the Michigan Good Food Fund.

When COVID-19 struck, businesses like Que’s shut down. But Que responded with innovation, quickly ramping up meal prep and delivery services as a viable business line.

Fair Food Network responded in kind, providing both wrap-around business assistance and catalytic capital to Que’s business. With one-on-one consulting, we worked with Que to pivot her business model during the COVID crisis. Technical assistance included bi-weekly financial trainings on topics from understanding balance sheets to maintaining cash flow and other topics. We also supported her in connecting with existing lenders to secure deferrals for loan payments. Finally, we engaged CPA consulting to help tune up business accounting practices.

In addition to business assistance, we were thrilled to provide Cooking with Que a $35,000 loan through our Fair Food Fund. We also provided follow-on business assistance, including public relations and social media consulting to increase sales.

Together, our integrated financing and business assistance support helped Que not only weather the transition but continue to be a leader in her community. At the height of the pandemic, Que provided food to quarantine locations and Detroit city employees working 24/7. She recently secured another contract with the city to provide meals for those who have to quarantine. Today her business is on the rise: She has brought on four new employees and 2020 sales were up 75 percent compared to the previous year.

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Our Roots

in the Northeast

The Fair Food Fund has been working in the Northeastern United States since our 2012 launch. Our work in the region continues on three fronts: Partnering with other lenders to support anchor food businesses; Targeted business assistance to high-impact companies; and Continued partnership with many of our portfolio companies who call the Northeast home.

Together with a network of partners built over the years, we are working to ensure that mission-driven food enterprises emerge from the economic and health crises of the past year fortified to support the repair and recovery of their communities. 2020 laid the groundwork for many 2021 investments in the region, including those leveraging our Collateral Initiative.

We also continue to provide business assistance to high-impact companies. Last year we worked with Common Wealth Poultry, the largest poultry processor in New England, which is not only serving up humanely raised chickens, but creating well-paying jobs in rural Maine and supporting family farms across seven states. Our targeted business assistance helped them develop a financial plan and investor materials to support business expansion.

Finally, many of our longstanding portfolio companies — from Five Acre Farms to Radicle Greens — call the Northeast home. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, our team met with each business to explore operational adjustments to preserve cash flow. We also offered loan deferments or modifications and made ourselves available to provide intensive business assistance as they navigated this crisis.

While some businesses struggled, many saw increased revenue and we are thrilled to share that all businesses in our portfolio survived this unprecedented year and indeed helped sustain others in their communities through this crisis.

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From Farm to (every) Fork

with the Michigan Good Food Fund

In 2015, Fair Food Network helped launch a first-of-its-kind statewide healthy food financing initiative in Michigan in partnership with Capital Impact Partners, Michigan State University (MSU) Center for Regional Food Systems, and W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

The Michigan Good Food Fund broke new ground with its commitment to support businesses from farm to fork with a grounding in equity. It also demonstrated a new collaborative model with partners aligned in a shared commitment to increase healthy food access and spark economic opportunity in places that need it most.

Since 2015, this collective has deployed nearly $17 million in loans and grants, and the 300+ enterprises supported with financing or business assistance have in turn created or retained 1,000+ jobs.

We’ve been honored to be at the table leading pipeline development, initiative marketing and outreach, and business assistance in partnership with MSU Center for Regional Food Systems. This past year, we pivoted all business assistance support online, providing responsive and adaptive support to food businesses as they navigated the pandemic.

We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished together and have learned so much, not least the necessity to keep evolving to meet the needs of those we serve.

And those needs have never been more urgent and far-reaching. While 2020 was turbulent for all businesses, it was devastating for those led by Black and Brown entrepreneurs.

As we look toward the next chapter of this collaborative, there is a need to further center racial equity in this work in support of Black and Brown entrepreneurs, as well as deepen community engagement to ensure alignment with and accountability to community voice. We also aim to continue growing our lending network and available capital products, moving from individual transactions to the development of entrepreneur cohorts to support their continued growth.

Fair Food Network is honored to step into management of the Michigan Good Food Fund starting in 2021. Our impact investing arm, Fair Food Fund, will also join Capital Impact Partners, Detroit Development Fund, Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women, Michigan Women Forward, Northern Initiatives, and Lake Trust Credit Union as a lending partner, bringing equity and near equity products to Michigan entrepreneurs.

We can only achieve the change we know is possible — and needed — with this incredible network of partners. And it’s never been more important for us to stand up together.

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Community Resilience

in Camden, New Jersey

“Fair Food Network’s leadership in food systems, with an enduring emphasis on equity, have made it and its Fair Food Fund a critical partner. We are proud to work with them in launching a new fund in Camden that will co-create positive social change for people in the city we have called home since 1869.”

Kim F. Fortunato

Vice President of Community Affairs & President, Campbell Soup Foundation

Camden, New Jersey, sits amidst tremendous wealth of the Northeast corridor. Yet the abundance of the region — money, power, knowledge — has historically eluded Camden, resulting in high rates of poverty, unemployment, and incarceration.

Following $2.5 billion of public-private investment since 2012, things are beginning to turn around in Camden: Poverty and unemployment are down, high school graduation rates are on the rise, and new businesses are emerging.

Building on this momentum, a new effort is emerging to organize local stakeholders in support of the community’s continued regeneration. This effort is being spearheaded by a collective including Camden Community Partnership, Inc., Campbell Soup Company and the Campbell Soup Foundation, Fair Food Network, The Heart of Camden, Inc., and New Jersey Community Capital, among others.

Leveraging the power of the food sector, this collaborative will deploy integrated investments in area food businesses as means to grow community health and economic resilience, including through increased ownership and wealth-building opportunities for Camden families.

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Fair Food Fund

2020 Impact Report

During an unprecedented year when investments in local businesses were needed more than ever, Fair Food Fund stepped up.

A letter from our

2020 was a year of unprecedented upheaval and disruption. In addition to staggering food insecurity nationwide, supply chain disruptions strained food businesses and shuttered many. This was especially true for those led by Black and Brown entrepreneurs, who continue to suffer the brunt of the health and economic devastation wrought by the pandemic.

As the COVID crisis exploded, we moved quickly.

We reached out to our existing portfolio of businesses to support them through the pandemic. While some struggled, others saw lifts in revenue and we are thrilled to share that all portfolio companies survived this unprecedented year and indeed helped other businesses in their communities stay afloat.

We also accelerated new investments. We made four new investments in businesses that are not only growing healthy food access, creating jobs, and supporting family farmers, but are also aligned with our commitment to get more capital to women and BIPOC-led enterprises (Black, Indigenous, and people of color).

Finally, we launched a Collateral Initiative. We are offering this grant-funded pool of capital to other community-based lenders to promote their continued support to businesses in their portfolios. As we enter 2021, we are starting to make our first Collateral Initiative investments, which are providing critical follow-on capital and business assistance to mission-aligned enterprises impacted by COVID.

In the face of all this, 2020 sparked continued introspection that informed the evolution of our approach. As a national fund that works locally, we believe in building solutions with communities in ways that catalyze not just entrepreneur success, but broader systems change. The past year saw the seeding and deepening of such place-based initiatives, which will continue to grow in the year ahead.

While 2020 presented many uncertainties, it shined a bright light on the power of food entrepreneurs to be engines of a more equitable future. It also affirmed the power of partnerships as we work together to imagine a new way forward.

Thank you for your commitment and leadership in investing for impact with this work. Together, we are growing healthier, wealthier, more equitable communities.


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Mark's signature

Mark Watson

Senior Investment Strategist

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Oran's signature

Oran B. Hesterman, PhD

Founder & CEO

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National Vision,
Local Impact

No two places are the same. Neither are the solutions. As a national fund that works locally, we partner with communities to build solutions together.

In addition to our partnership with the Michigan Good Food Fund, current places of work include Camden, New Jersey and the Northeastern United States including Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

“With Fair Food Network’s support, I was able to pivot my company to not only stay in business, but help feed my community through the pandemic. Having access to healthy food has never been more important – both to make it through this crisis and ensure we come back stronger.”

Quiana “Que” Broden

Cooking with Que, Detroit, MI

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Investment Highlights

This year we made four investments in businesses across Michigan and the Northeastern United States.

Together these projects are increasing healthy food access, supporting family farmers, creating jobs, and opening opportunities with an explicit focus on supporting women and BIPOC-led businesses.

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Business Assistance Highlights

Our business assistance meets entrepreneurs where they are — whether through group trainings or customized one-on-one support. This year, we pivoted our support online as we helped companies navigate the shocks of the pandemic. This included two trainings to our Michigan network to build both entrepreneur financial knowledge and broader community impact.

Portfolio Overview

Finances Committed

(through Dec. 31, 2020)


Financing Outstanding


Investment Income


Total Investments (Since Inception)

Default rate

As of Dec. 31, 2020, the annualized default rate since the Fund’s inception (2012) is 1.3% or 11% cumulatively. This includes all realized write offs on an investment of a capital pool of $3.58 million.

Type of Business

Type of Structure


Open or CloseBalance Sheet




Accounts Receivable


PRI Loans Committed


FFF Investments Outstanding


Total Assets


Liabilities and Net Assets Expenses

Loans Payable


Accrued Interest


Unrestricted Net Assets


Temporarily Restricted Net Assets


Total Liabilities and Net Assets


Open or CloseIncome Statement


Government Grant Income


Non-Government Grant Income


Investment Income


Other Income


Total Income



Program Operating Expenses


Technical Assistance Expenses


Investment Expenses


Total Expenses


Net Income


These financial statements show income and expenses generated by the Fair Food Fund in 2020 as well as the Fund’s financial position as of December 31, 2020. The Fund’s financial statements were internally prepared by Fair Food Network and have not been audited by a third party. The financial statements are inclusive of complimentary business assistance activities related to the Fund and provided by Fair Food Network.

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A Vision for 2021

We continue to make catalytic investments that are enabling deals that otherwise might not be possible. Our business assistance is meeting entrepreneurs where they are. And our integrated approach is generating not just entrepreneur success, but broader systems change. With a growing team in place, we have no doubt 2021 will be even more impactful.

All of this work is possible because of our incredible partners — funders, investors, fellow lenders and technical assistance providers — who understand the transformative power of food.

But what really makes this work possible are the entrepreneurs themselves. The entrepreneurs we partner with embody our nation’s diversity and as women and BIPOC-leaders represent community-driven change. Together they are increasing healthy food access, growing new markets for area farmers, and sparking job creation and community economic development. Their passion, resilience, and ingenuity keeps us going.

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Our Supporters

We are deeply grateful for our supporters who help make this impact possible. With your partnership, we’re not just investing in entrepreneurs, we are growing healthier, wealthier, more equitable communities. THANK YOU.

Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation


Bank of America Foundation

Campbell Soup Foundation


Domino’s Pizza

Elmina B. Sewall Foundation

The Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation

Henry P. Kendall Foundation

The John Merck Fund

Mighty Arrow Family Foundation

Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation

Surdna Foundation

United Way for Southeastern Michigan

The Wege Foundation

W.K. Kellogg Foundation

“You Have Our Trust” Fund of New Hampshire Charitable Foundation

“Fair Food Network’s leadership in food systems, with an enduring emphasis on equity, have made it and its Fair Food Fund a critical partner. We are proud to work with them in launching a new fund in Camden that will co-create positive social change for people in the city we have called home since 1869.”

Kim F. Fortunato

Vice President of Community Affairs & President

Campbell Soup Foundation

Meet Our Team

We are a team of industry experts with decades of experience in community-based impact investing, food and agriculture, and entrepreneurship. Together, we are growing community health and wealth through food.

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Jean Chorazyczewski

Program Director

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Oran B. Hesterman, PhD

Founder & CEO

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Kyama Kitavi

Investment Manager

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Kate Krauss

Executive Director & COO

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Joel Moyer

Portfolio Manager

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Lolita Nunn

Investor Relations

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Lisa Sebesta

Senior Investment Strategist

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Mark Watson

Senior Investment Strategist

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Xana Williams

Business Assistance Manager

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Chris Bentley

Portfolio Advisor

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Daniel Tellalian

Portfolio Advisor

Investment Committee

Aviv Aviad

Managing Director

Cornus Consulting

Chris Bentley

Impact Fund Manager

Serious Change Investments & Sustain VC

Kofi Callender

Executive Director

EforAll Roxbury

Oran B. Hesterman, PhD

Founder & CEO

Fair Food Network

Kate Krauss

Executive Director & COO

Fair Food Network

Michael Rozyne

Founder & Evangelist

Red Tomato

Jeff Scheer


Pathstone Federal Street

Lisa Sebesta


Sitari Capital

Daniel Tellalian

Founder & CEO

Angel City Advisors

Mark Watson

Senior Investment Strategist

Fair Food Network

Thank you to Jeff Scheer for his support of this work as he moves off the Investment Committee in 2021.

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The next wave of impact starts here.

This is an investment that works: Every $1 invested in good food businesses is generating nearly $9 in community benefits. This means more healthy food, more jobs and economic opportunity, and more opportunity for more people in more places.

Join us in growing healthier, wealthier, more equitable communities.

Download a PDF version of this report