Increasing access to healthy food at a cooperative grocery store

Soulis, Jessica
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A variety of approaches, including public and private food assistance and community-based models, are being used to address food insecurity. In this participatory project, I worked with representatives of a grocery cooperative and interviewed social services staff and low-income residents from the surrounding community in order to develop programming and policy suggestions for the co-op that could make it more inclusive and affordable, thereby helping to increase community members' food security. In the process, I learned a great deal about the challenges faced by people with low incomes, their resourcefulness, the values that shape the people and organizations included in this study, and the ways that knowledge and power influence the lives of the interviewees. These individual responses lead to structural questions about the food system, especially concerning how people with low incomes experience it. This project demonstrates that social change agents ought to continually reflect upon the values and assumptions that guide their work to persist in making their approaches more just, and that social change is best instigated and carried out from within a community and sustained as part of a larger movement to improve the system and the lives of those most adversely affected by it.

cooperative grocery, food access, food co-op, healthy food, low-income