Photo of WPA Mural "Harvesting Tobacco" 1941 by Roy Schatt, hanging in Whiteville, NC.



The Southeastern North Carolina Food Systems (SENCFS) Project was co-founded in 2006 by Mac Legerton, Center for Community Action in Lumberton and Leslie Hossfeld, Public Sociology Program. University of North Carolina Wilmington as an economic and community development initiative in response to the massive job loss and high poverty  in Southeastern North Carolina.  SENCFS has developed into a partnership of public and private institutions and agencies among six counties along and adjoining the I-74 corridor east of I-95. Southeastern NC is the most ethnically diverse region in North Carolina and in Rural America; it is also one of the three major regions of persistent poverty in N.C. The SENCFS includes both rural and urban counties in order to maximize market opportunities and profits from the sales of local farm products for both local and regional markets.  

The SENCFS Project was established in early 2007 in order to join public and private agencies together and create a county-based and a regional food system that will:

·  increase the sales of local farm product;


· sustain and expand farm employment, profit, and ownership, particularly among limited resource farmers


· expand local and regional markets for local farm products, developing systems of institutional buying and expanding direct farm to market sales; 


· educate and train limited resource farmers in alternative and niche market production and develop programs of mutual assistance among farmers and consumers;


· educate and encourage consumers and the public on the importance of 'buying local';


· keep a greater percentage of the food dollar within Southeastern NC and increase local and regional wealth through the multiplier effect of expanded markets, sales and profits;


· increase access to affordable food and encourage the consumption of healthy foods both in public institutions and at home;


· provide fresher, healthier, and safer farm products for local and regional consumption, increasing the biodiversity of farm production and consumer health and safety.


The governance of the SENCFS is democratic, farmer driven, and supported by public and private service providers and businesses. In 2008, each county will establish a local food systems council and elect representatives to the regional SENCFS. In the agricultural counties of Robeson, Columbus, and Bladen, limited resource farmers will represent a 60% majority on the 25 member councils. In the non-agricultural counties of New Hanover, Brunswick, and Pender, limited resource farmers will constitute 25% of the 25 member councils. Each of the six counties will elect three representatives to serve on the Board of the SENCFS. Both the local food system councils, and the regional council, will be racially, geographically, and sector diverse, including farmers, institutional buyers, farmers markets, service providers, educators, policymakers, and youth. Cooperative Extension agents in each county will be directly engaged in local and regional planning, service provision, and governance.


MEETING TIME:  The Southeastern North Carolina Food Systems Council meets the first Tuesday of each month from 1-2:30 at Southeastern Community College in Whiteville, "T" building.  All are welcome to join us! 

Meetings scheduled for 2008 are:

February 5th 
March 4th
April 1st
May 6th
June 3rd—Tidal Creek Coop Community Center Wilmington 10-3 pm
July 15th—Tidal Creek Coop Community Center Wilmington 10-3

August - December meetings to be announced

CONTACT INFORMATION:  Please contact Leslie Hossfeld, University of North Carolina Wilmington, at 910-962-7849 or or Raven Bruno for more information.




FUNDING! SENCFS received funding from Golden LEAF to focus on institutional buying and promotion of our BUY LOCAL campaign. 


FUNDING! The Southeastern North Carolina Food Systems (SENCFS) Program received a Technical Assistance Grant from the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SSAWG).  Southern SAWG will work closely with the SENCFS and assist us with our planning and development process.  One of the key goals of SSAWG engagement is to move SENCFS toward an adequately funded and more effective community food system. SSAWG will utilize in-house expertise and contract with consultants to provide telecommunications and on-site visits to deliver technical assistance to local project leaders, partners and primary implementers.




New Hanover County Community Food Assessment (full report, go to

                          1)          Farmers’ interest in regional food system;

                          2)          New Hanover County restaurants’ interest in BUYING LOCAL

                          3)          Food Security needs in New Hanover County


What is a Food System?

Community Food Systems Handbook:

Growing a Community Food System:

Bringing Local Food To Local Institutions



1.    Buying local food uses less energy and ensures fresher food with better taste and more nutrients.

2.    Many of the foods we eat are genetically modified and covered in toxic agrichemicals.

3.     Farmers only receive about $.09 for every dollar spent on food.

4.    Our current food system is unsustainable; it depletes the soil, pollutes the air and water, has harmful effects on farm workers' health and uses large amounts of pesticides.

5.    The corporate food chain has become global, inhibiting consumers' knowledge of where their food comes from and how it is grown or produced.

6.    The establishment of local and regional food systems is a key component in developing vibrant and sustainable local and regional economies.




University of North Carolina Wilmington: Lead Agent in Partnership -Dr. Leslie Hossfeld Public Sociologist – PhD Trained in Rural Sociology at North Carolina State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and is Director Public Sociology Undergraduate and Graduate Programs at UNCW. Students in both the BA and MA in Public Sociology work on SENCFS project conducting food assessments in the 6 county region.  Raven Bruno is Graduate Assistant and MA Candidate and serves as Coordinator for the SENCFS Project.  Steve Demski, Vice Chancellor Public Service and Continuing Studies at UNCW, was the former Director of Cooperative Extension in Massachusetts and has extensive Agribusiness experience. 

Bladen: NC Cooperative Extension, Family Resource Center, Family Support Program of Bladen County

Brunswick: NC Cooperative Extension, Shelton Herb Farm, Brunswick Family Assistance, A Second Helping, Shallotte Farmers Market, Southport Riverfront Market, Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina

Columbus: NC Cooperative Extension, Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina, Town of Sandyfield, Columbus County Healthy Carolinians Columbus Hospital, NC Step, and the DREAM Center

New Hanover: NC Cooperative Extension, Food Bank of Central & Eastern NC, UNCW, Wilmington Riverfront Farmers Market, Tidal Creek Food Cooperative, Wilmington Housing Authority, Northside Resource Center, WRAAP

Pender: NC Cooperative Extension, Poplar Grove Farmers’ Market, USDA, Cape Fear Creations (Commercial Shared Use Kitchen), Pender County Tourism, Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina

Robeson: NC Cooperative Extension, SE NC Farmers Market, USDA, Center for Community Action, Robeson County Family Support Program