Mandela Foods Cooperative, a black-owned nonprofit based in West Oakland, California, has opened a health food store to address the once long-standing problem of food insecurity in their neighborhood. The store operates on an innovative worker-owner business model in which employees can become part owners of the store after working 1,000 hours.
Mandela Foods Cooperative seems to be improving the lives of local residents by providing a source of healthy food. From Fast Company:
Before the store moved into the neighborhood, many current customers often ended up buying junk food from corner stores. “As far as what my old diet used to consist of, we can just run down the entire Frito-Lay catalog: Fritos, Cheetos, Doritos,” one of the co-op’s worker-owners, James Berk, said in a 2011 video about the grocery.
The health food store, by contrast, sells products like organic lentils and beans in bulk bins, kombucha, and locally made tempeh and granola. Flowers come from a West Oakland farm that trains local teenagers in business skills; some produce comes from nearby minority-owned farms. Through a program called Fresh Creds, set up with the partner nonprofit and a USDA grant, customers using food stamps can buy fruits and vegetables at half price.
The store also helps stimulate the local economy by attracting business from around the Bay Area.
Check out this video about Mandela Foods Cooperative from Storytellers for Good:
You can read more about their world-changing work here.