Despite efforts to include members from a variety of backgrounds, food co-ops in Clinton Hill, Bushwick, Oakland, Calif., and other gentrifying areas across the U.S. are having a hard time attracting low-income, non-white residents as members, according to a story in the New York Times.
The Greene Hill Food Co-op in Clinton Hill and the Bushwick Food Co-op — two alternatives to the overcrowded Park Slope Food Co-op — are well under way, as more than 120 co-ops open across the country. In Prospect Lefferts Gardens, a group starting a co-op there has secured a storefront space and hopes to open soon, The Brooklyn Paper reported.
The Bushwick Food Co-op organizes tours and other outreach efforts through neighborhood groups; Greene Hill offers discounted memberships for low-income members. But, we would like to point out, because they are new and lack the buying power of a large membership, they cannot offer the extremely low prices and high quality for which the Park Slope Food Co-op is famed. (Prices there are about 30 percent lower than other groceries in New York City, even mainstream ones, according to studies.)
The Times also mentions an African-American-led effort in Detroit, but says recent attempts to start co-ops in East New York and the South Bronx have failed.
The story does not mention the Park Slope Food Co-op’s diverse membership, which includes Hasidic Jews, African-Americans, low-income members, and people who live in subsidized housing. We remember back in the 1970s when food co-ops symbolized a do-it-yourself effort to lower costs and improve nutrition, not yuppification. Perhaps new Brooklyn co-ops could short circuit some growing pains by doing group buys with the Park Slope Food Co-op.
Do you think food co-ops are a positive or negative development for Brooklyn?
Food Co-ops in Gentrifying Areas Find They Aren’t to Every Taste [NY Times]
Thought for Food Co-op in Prospect Lefferts Gardens [Brooklyn Paper]