Neighbors Work To Start Grocery Co-Op as a Food Desert Oasis

by Vins
Published: Last Updated on

The closing of its Winn-Dixie supermarket in 1998 left the predominantly African-American community of northeast Greensboro, North Carolina, without a local grocery. In February 2014, taking matters into their own hands, the neighbors began the process of opening their own co-op grocery store, the Renaissance Community Cooperative (RCC) on Phillips Avenue, scheduled to open in 2015

The RCC promises more than just a new grocery store. With its unemployment rate at 7.2 percent in January 2014 and its poverty rate stuck at 20 percent for the past five years, Greensboro needs a boost.

Most corporate media coverage of this process has been local: daily newspaper the News & Record of Greensboro, and Fox affiliate WGHP (Channel 8) in High Point. Stories have emphasized the progress of the RCC’s construction rather than the real issues of poverty and corporate abandonment of poor communities, though News & Record columnist Allen Johnson, who has bought one of the $100 memberships in the co-op, has urged readers all over town to john the effort: “It would address a public health issue: Northeast Greensboro is a ‘food desert,’ meaning access to healthy and reasonably priced groceries is limited.”

Like other neighborhoods nationwide, northeast Greensboro is working to launch a cooperative that will provide good, healthy food for local families as well as desperately needed jobs with wages starting at $10 an hour. The RCC shows a way for residents of poor communities of color to work together to improve their economies and their health.

Sources:

Tamara El, “Black Neighborhood In NC Unifies To Open A Grocery Store,” The Source, October 28, 2014, http://thesource.com/2014/10/28/black-neighborhood-in-nc-unifies-to-open-a-grocery-store/.

Allen Johnson, “Co-op could use a little help from its friends,” News & Record, February 25, 2015, http://www.news-record.com/blogs/thinking_out_loud/co-op-could-use-a-little-help-from-its-friends/article_fe949cb8-bd50-11e4-8833-07833d6b1e5f.html

Kathleen O’Brien, “When Its Only Grocery Store Closed Its Doors, This Town Didn’t Have to Look Far for New Owners,” NationSwell, October 29, 2014, http://nationswell.com/greensboro-opens-town-owned-renaissance-community-cooperative-supermarket/.

Dave Reed, “After Years Without a Grocery Store, Greensboro Neighbors Are Building One Themselves–And They’ll Own It,” Yes! Magazine, October 17, 2014, http://www.yesmagazine.org/commonomics/greensboro-neighbors-build-grocery-store-and-they-ll-own-it.

Michael Joseph Roberto, “Crisis, Recovery, and the Transitional Economy: The Struggle for Cooperative Ownership in Greensboro, North Carolina,” Monthly Review, May 2014, http://monthlyreview.org/2014/05/01/crisis-recovery-transitional-economy/.

Student Researcher: Alissa Perske (Frostburg State University)

Faculty Evaluator: Andy Duncan (Frostburg State University)