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Black Neighbors Band Together to Bring in Healthy Food, Co-op-Style

by  CN Team on September 12, 2017
Black Neighbors Band Together to Bring in Healthy Food, Co-op-Style

 A decade ago, researchers reported that more than half of Detroit residents live in a food desert—an area where access to fresh and affordable healthy foods is limited because grocery stores are too far away. Efforts since then to bring more grocery stores—and food security—to predominantly Black neighborhoods haven’t worked.

But that’s looking to change.

Malik Yakini is executive director of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, a coalition of people and groups that promotes urban agriculture, co-operative buying, and healthy eating. His organization is helping Black people in the city take matters into their own hands by creating their own grocery store, The Detroit People’s Co-op. The grocery will sit in the city’s North End neighborhood, where about 92 percent of residents are Black and nearly 40 percent have a household income less than $15,000.

“We found that a co-op grocery store was imperative,” says Yakini, adding that the members began to conceptualize the co-op in 2010 after they surveyed hundreds of Detroiters on their dietary eating habits, wants, and needs. “This new store will give the people more control over the food they eat and its production and preparation,” he says.

Food deserts are usually found in low-income areas, forcing residents either to travel to the suburbs for fresh groceries or settle for one of the many nearby convenience stores and fast food restaurants. Since transportation and time is an issue for low-income families, the impact is a health epidemic. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Black American adults have the highest overweight and obesity rates in the country.

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