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2024 Metropolitan QLICI of the Year

Custom Foods of America

Location: Knoxville, TN


Mid-City Community CDE
CCG Community Partners LLC
National New Markets Fund LLC
Empowerment Reinvestment Fund LLC
Truist Community Development Enterprises LLC

2024 QLICI Awards - Metro - winnerFive CDEs combined to allocate $43 million in NMTCs to help Custom Foods of America (CFA) continue its growth, address food insecurity and provide critical employment in a predominantly minority neighborhood in Knoxville, Tennessee.

CFA was founded in 1982 with seven employees, but now is a supplier of soups, side dishes, appetizers, glazes/marinades/sauces and component ingredients to major restaurants. CFA also supplies numerous convenience stores in food deserts with hot food offerings during breakfast, lunch and dinner to drive foot traffic and provide healthy sources of food.

Thanks to this investment, CFA will expand its capacity by 70%, creating 231 new full-time equivalent jobs and retaining 232 such jobs. All jobs are accessible to low-income individuals, recent emigrees and those who have previously been incarcerated. The average tenure for CFA employees is 7.4 years, compared to the industry average of 1.9 years. Many of CFA’s senior leaders came up through the ranks.

In addition to providing food to restaurants and convenience stores, CFA actively supports local and regional food banks in providing for food-insecure children and adults, donating nearly 1.4 million pounds of excess raw materials and finished goods in 2023 alone.


Honorable Mention: Metro

ESIC New Markets Partners Limited Partnership, Florida Community Loan Fund, Inc. and USBCDE LLC combined to help finance the construction of Lotus Children’s Village in Miami. The 75,000-square-foot holistic children’s resource center is across the street from Lotus Village, a nonprofit shelter for women and children experiencing homelessness in the underserved Overtown neighborhood.

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