Free Lunch—With a Side of Financial Advice

Southeastern FCU pairs free nutrition and instruction for employees at area businesses.

March 1, 2014

When it comes to dishing out financial education, the only “bologna” you’ll get from Southeastern Federal Credit Union arrives in your complimentary box meal.

The $182 million asset credit union’s “CU@Lunch” program pairs free nutrition and instruction in on-site classes for employees of participating businesses in the Valdosta, Ga., area.

CU at WorkSoutheastern Federal branch managers provide 30 minutes of straight talk to a primarily bluecollar workforce about topics such as budgeting, credit, auto and home buying, and identity theft . They also will answer questions on a one-onone basis afterward.

“We’ve had a lot of good feedback,” says Courtney Gooding, business and community development coordinator for Southeastern Federal.

CU@Lunch is part of the credit union’s broader "CU@Work" initiative to forge partnerships withemployers, some of which were the credit union’s select employee groups (SEGs) prior to Southeastern Federal obtaining a community charter in 1998.

The program reached 440 people at about a dozen companies last year—at a minimum of 15 students per class—and has expanded to offer a wider range of classes at more businesses in 2014.

Southeastern Federal presents CU@Lunch as a turnkey program. Employers’ only responsibility is creating a sign-up sheet. It steers clear of sales at these sessions.

“Some employers have very strict no-solicitation policies, so we don’t specifically sell our products and services, but we make ourselves known as a trusted expert,” Gooding says. “We tell them if they’re in the market for a home or car loan, they can come to us.”