Shreveport FCU Honored for Fighting Delta’s ‘Food Deserts’
Shreveport Federal Credit Union was recently recognized for its efforts to help develop a program that provides fresh fruits and vegetables to communities that lack access to produce.
Helen Godfrey-Smith, president/CEO of the $99 million credit union in Shreveport, La., received the 2014 Cooperative of the Year Award from the Alcorn State University Extension Program to develop a program under the Healthy Food Financing Initiative to help combat food deserts in the Mississippi Delta region. Godfrey-Smith is pictured at left.
A food desert is defined as a census tract with a substantial share of residents who have little or no access to affordable fresh fruits and vegetables in their neighborhood, according to Shreveport FCU.
The HFFI program is an investment into small rural communities that promotes economic growth and business expansion by providing loan funds to small crop farmers to expand their growing operations for the production, distribution and sale of healthy foods in the Mississippi Delta, the credit union said.
Farming and healthy foods are major priorities for Shreveport FCU’s Delta Division, said Godfrey-Smith. Since 2011, the credit union said it has loaned more than $21 million to small farmers and other consumers in the Mississippi Delta to expand and grow their operations and empower families.
One example of the success of the partnership with ASU and the HFFI program was the grand opening of the Frank Wilbourn Farmer’s Market in the Quitman County Food Desert, according to the credit union.
“I am more committed than ever to the development of more partnerships and projects that help communities grow and prosper, and finding viable solutions to challenges facing residents in the Delta,” said Godfrey-Smith.
The credit union was honored at Alcorn State University’s recent 2014 Small Farmers and Women in Business Conference held in Jackson, Miss.
Shreveport FCU received the Credit Union Times 2013 Trailblazer award for Outstanding Service to the Underserved.