After years of gentrification and rising rents, many residents of Brooklyn, New York City, are living in food deserts – prompting a community organisation to launch a crowdfunder for a co-op grocery store.
The team, based in the Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights areas, is zeroing in on its goal to open the Central Brooklyn Food Coop (CBFC) in 2020, and last week passed its US$25,000 fundraising target – just six days after its launch.
It will be the first black-led food co-op in New York City, which is home to successful member-owned grocery projects such as Brooklyn-based Park Slope Food Coop.
“Food is power,” says the CBFC team. “It can gather us, nurture us, fuel us; it’s a celebration of culture, an act of care, a chance to connect. Its presence – or absence – has a massive impact on our humanity.
“For the last several decades, food in Central Brooklyn became an experience of absence; as supermarkets left for the suburbs, access to quality food became so scarce that our neighbourhood was deemed a ‘food desert’.
“Central Brooklyn is experiencing rapid gentrification; high-priced storefronts and corporate chains are making their way back into the neighbourhood – but for who?
“CBFC is here to collectively improve local food options. Our commitment to food sovereignty affirms and reclaims the power of food by providing access that is affordable, fresh, welcoming, and community-owned.”
The project has been in development for six years, carrying out grassroots campaigning, food access surveys, and building relationships with local growers and suppliers. CBFC is now working to grow its membership base, secure a store site, and renovate the site ready for the store to launch by next summer.
The co-op is member-owned and run, promising a centre for affordable groceries, food education and advocacy. It is hoped the store will build close neighbourhood ties.
“We prioritise relationships with local, black and brown growers and food suppliers,” adds the crowdfunder. “We are proud to amplify and uplift black leadership in our organsation.
“We are dedicated to ensuring that households of low-to-moderate income and communities of colour are highly represented in our membership.
“The co-op is open to all for membership … Ultimately, we want CBFC to be a place for the community to gather, learn, and organise together.”
The kickstarter campaign continues here, with a new stretch goal to raise $100,000 for renovation fund, community space and community programming.