The Center for Environmental Farming Systems’ statewide initiative to stimulate economic development, create jobs and promote North Carolina’s farms and fisheries announced that more than $5.7 million in local foods expenditures have been reported by local individuals, organizations and institutions participating in the campaign.
Launched in July 2010 in partnership with North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service and funding from Golden LEAF, the 10% Campaign has successfully encouraged hundreds of businesses and community organizations; hospitals and medical centers; universities and colleges; and thousands of individuals to invest 10 percent of their food budget on foods produced within the state’s borders. The campaign has also fostered the development and promotion of regional buy-local food initiatives.
“Building our local food economy is a smart, long-term investment in the economic health of this great state,” said CEFS Board Advisor and Red Hat Vice President for Open Source Affairs Michael Tiemann. “As evidenced by the campaign’s early success, it’s an investment people are choosing to make.”
By the numbers
The statewide 10% Campaign has won the support of more than 4,000 individuals, 321 businesses, including 33 Piggly Wiggly grocery stores and five Whole Foods Markets and 67 restaurants. Charlotte-based Compass Group, the world’s largest food service company and one of the initial campaign launch partners, reports that in the first nine months of the campaign it spent $363,135, or 9.53 percent, on locally grown produce. The company expects to spend close to $500,000 when the full year is reported.
Cheryl Queen, vice president of corporate communications for Compass Group and board chair of CEFS, adds, “Supporting the 10% Campaign in our home state has been rewarding, as we’re committed to regional flavors and our local communities. This is a natural extension of our national Eat Local campaign.”
The 10% Campaign is supported by more than 100 North Carolina Cooperative Extension agents who have been designated as local food coordinators for each of the state’s 100 counties. Brunswick, Cabarrus, Chatham, Guilford, Forsyth, Onslow and Rockingham counties have adopted resolutions in support of the campaign.
The cities of Goldsboro and Southport and the Town of Knightdale have also joined the campaign. Several regional buy-local food initiatives – Brunswick and Carteret Catch, Feast Down East, Foothills Connect, Piedmont Grown and Piedmont Local Food – are up and running, ensuring more people have access to affordable, fresh and locally produced foods; all are partnered with the 10% Campaign.
“Ensuring people in every town and of every income have access to fresh, healthy and locally produced food is central to the mission of CEFS and is fully supported by its 10% Campaign,” said former U.S. Rep. Eva Clayton. “I’m confident that as the campaign progresses, its outreach and influence will permeate the historical barriers faced by too many North Carolinians. As a CEFS board advisor and a long-time public servant, I consider myself to be a proud campaign ambassador.”
The campaign enters its second year with renewed funding from Golden LEAF and increasing participation. New Hanover Regional Medical Center and its Burgaw affiliate, Pender Memorial Hospital joined the campaign in June. In addition to sourcing local foods to be served to their patients and in their cafeterias, both have hosted on-campus farmers’ markets for employees and the greater community.
“Hosting an on-campus market is important to Pender Memorial,” said Ruth Glaser, hospital president. “We want to encourage employees to make healthy choices and support the farmers and businesses in the community. By participating in the campaign, we can better fulfill this commitment.”
Additional large-scale food purchasers also participating in the campaign include Centerplate hospitality, serving the Raleigh Convention Center and the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts; and the campus dining services at North Carolina Agriculture and Technical State University, North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina-Asheville and the University of North Carolina-Wilmington.
“Developing and maintaining partnerships are pivotal to the campaign’s success and the collaborative nature of CEFS and our partners like the North Carolina Extension Service,” said Teisha Wymore, state coordinator for the campaign. “These partnerships encourage consumers to look for local brands, support our business partners, foster viable farming communities and help the campaign track demand for local foods. We’re proud of our first year.”
Join the campaign
“The campaign’s success is the result of work of thousands of individuals across the state,” said CEFS Director Nancy Creamer of North Carolina State University. “We are building a local food economy, an economy that creates real jobs and opportunities while supporting access to healthy, locally produced foods. Year two promises to be equally successful and I encourage everyone to visit the campaign website – NC10percent.com – to learn how they can join this winning campaign.”
Individuals can sign up for the campaign and track their spending and growing power on a weekly basis through an online interactive dashboard. Businesses and organizations can participate in the campaign in three ways: Pledge 10 percent of their purchasing/growing power; host an employee/member challenge; and promote the campaign externally.
The 10% Campaign website also has a number of resources, including an online directory of organizations working to help consumers find farmers marketing directly to their customers and other supply lines for locally grown foods. Contact Teisha Wymore for information about how to join the campaign at 919.515.0244 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Center for Environmental Farming Systems: CEFS is a partnership between North Carolina State University, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Its mission is to develop and promote food and farming systems that protect the environment, strengthen local communities and provide economic opportunities in North Carolina and beyond.