SOUTH LA RESIDENTS SEEK TO CREATE AN OASIS IN THE FOOD DESERT
A growing group of residents are forming a natural foods co-op in the South LA area. Founding members of the SoLA Food Co-op say they won’t wait for retailers to come to them. They aim to open a full service grocery store that will bring fresh, healthy, non-GMO, and organic foods within easy reach.
It isn’t that there is no food available in South Los Angeles; it’s the type of food that’s available. In an area rife with fast food chains and liquor stores, residents who seek higher quality organic and natural foods typically travel between 7 and 13 miles from home to shop for food. Large supermarket chains that carry organic foods in other neighborhoods don’t bother to stock them in South Los Angeles. Meanwhile, other popular markets that specialize in health foods and high end but economical convenience foods are complacent that buyers from the under-served areas of LA will travel far and wide to get their merchandise.
A Co-op is a for-profit store collectively owned by its members and run democratically by a member elected board of directors. By opening a co-op, SoLA’s members plan to not only provide great choices in food shopping, but to empower each other and the community economically. While members will enjoy certain special benefits including profit sharing and discounts, membership will not be required to shop at the store. Money and profits stay local. SoLA will offer classes and workshops aimed at raising awareness about health, nutrition, food preparation, growing food, and sustainability. The hope is to also include a café and/or deli so that the store becomes a place for the community to come together to meet, shop, grab a bite, or stop to rest over a cup of joe, or more likely, an organic coconut.
Currently, the members of the SoLA Food Co-op are working to get the word out by aligning themselves with civic organizations that seek to improve the quality of life in South Los Angeles and by enlisting the support of their fellow residents. More info and a schedule of events can be found on their website at www.solafoodcoop.com