Whole Foods Commits $25 Million to Local Businesses, Opens Wellness Center in Detroit

Whole Foods Market is (Nasdaq: WFM) staying true to its mission of providing healthy food for the masses by launching two new initiatives for the new year. The organic grocer announced on January 2 that it is expanding its Local Producer Loan Program which will give up to $25 million in low-interest funds to businesses who support their non-GMO, earth-friendly values. Recipients of the loans can use the money for a wide range of business purposes.

"Whether it's improving the business plan, discussing market trends, or connecting people with new partners in our network, it's exciting to see the results of great teamwork combined with monetary support," said Whole Foods global grocery purchasing coordinator, Dwight Richmond.

Whole Foods has provided 184 loans to 155 companies since launching its Local Producer Loan Program in 2007. Participants in the program include a host of business owners, such as organic vegetable farmers, grass-fed cattle ranchers, natural body care producers and gluten-free bakers. Loans generally range between $1,000 and $100,000 and borrowers have to meet Whole Foods Market's quality standards and use the money to expand.

"By playing a role in advancing new ideas, growing businesses and realizing dreams, Whole Foods Market stays connected with both our neighborhood producers and our global food community," said Betsy Foster, Whole Foods Market global vice president of growth and business development.

In addition to expanding its loan program, Whole Foods is also committing to providing educational resources to inner city residents in Detroit. The city of Detroit got a fresh start in June when Whole Foods opened its first store there, a bright spot in the city's inner-city downtown neighborhood. Now, the grocer will open a "Let's Talk Food" center near the Detroit store where it will host free nutrition and culinary classes. Courses will teach on topics such as understanding food labels, combating food cravings and maintaining a healthy diet. Whole Foods will also launch a "Healthy Eating Challenge" program that will invite several Metro Detroit chefs, yoga instructors, physical trainers, and medical officials to lecture on health and food topics.

For more see:
-This Whole Foods press release
-This The Detroit News article

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