Central Brooklyn Meals Coop takes a giant step ahead – Our time press
The food coop is switched off and running
A new Schwarz-run food cooperative will open next year, offering fresh produce, healthy foods and other nutritious dishes, serving Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights. It took a long time, but after the cheers from the organizers and the enthusiastic reception from the residents, the wait was worth it. People from outside the neighborhood are also welcome (some longtime Brooklyn residents will recall that while the Central Brooklyn Food Coop was reported in multiple news media as the first of its kind black-owned initiative, it was not. In the 1970s ran East Kununuana, a food cooperative that sells groceries and products on Fulton Street on the corner of Claver Place.
The Coop raised nearly $ 35,000 on Kickstarter, achieving its first goal of $ 25,000 in just six days. They plan to use these donations to rent a business on Fulton Street. The campaign ends at midnight on November 22nd. When the $ 100,000 goal is met, organizers can pay for the cost of renovating and equipping their new space with a kitchen for cooking classes and other activities.
Mark Winston Griffith
“Yes, the Coop is designed to impact a specific community, but anyone from anywhere can join,” said Mark Winston Griffith, founder and director of the Brooklyn Movement Center (BMC) and founding member of the Central Brooklyn Food Coop (CBFC).
“The CBFC is one of the foundational campaigns for the Brooklyn Movement Center,” said Winston Griffith. “So that’s a huge shot in the arm!”
It takes a long time for something so critical and comprehensive to work. But Winston Griffith is a longtime community activist and organizer with patience and perspective. He’s learned the value of incremental steps; Delays, setbacks and rethinking are to be expected and can serve to form a proven and resilient team.
Since the Coop is the BMC’s idea and passion project, the board members of the Coop will work with it to rebuild an affordable and sustainable local food economy. However, the cooperative will also operate independently, tying its work to the broader goals of its communities and building beneficial and sustainable partnerships with like-minded sources and resources.
The CBFC already benefits from its existing collaborations with RiseBoro Community Partnerships and Brooklyn Packers. The shopping club has supported local farmers and bakeries, etc., many of which are black-owned.
As gentrification continues in Bedford Stuyvesant and Crown Heights, many people whose families have been there for generations cannot or will not patronize the high-end supermarkets and twee coffeehouses. But their patronage is critical to those small businesses trying to stay in the black.
“We [at BMC] are a community organization trying to change policies and practices, “said Winston Griffith,” but we cannot do that without building an institution that offers tangible benefits and meets people where they are for their needs. In that case, we will literally feed them and put some money in their pockets. “
Ina Solomon has been with the CBFC since 2014. She is now a member of the Board of Directors and Co-Chair of the Coop Business and Strategy Committee. As a long-time member of the Park Slope Food Coop, she was delighted when she first learned that a healthy eating initiative like the CBFC was coming into her neighborhood. And it will be based on the PSFC, one of the largest (with 17,000 members) and longest running cooperatives in the country. It has remained successful as a members only cooperative where everyone – with the exception of paid employees – works the same number of hours per month and low-income members get a break from the initial fees and membership fees.
Ina is committed and enthusiastic.
“The Business and Strategy Committee provides the operational strategy for our work. Some of our projects include writing the business plan, organizing our property search, developing the financial models and projections. We have over 50 invested members in the cooperative, but our group of supporters is much larger. That number is a couple of hundred. We aim to have at least 500 invested members by the time we open business in 2020. “
It confirms Winston Griffith’s belief that the CBFC is in the right place at the right time and is ready to make a difference not only for – but also for the community.
“We are a mission-driven cooperative that aims to provide healthy eating options to long-term residents of Central Brooklyn,” said Solomon. “We approach our work with a deep sense of responsibility, care and love for our community, and that takes time. We want to do it right.
“Everyone I spoke to was enthusiastic about the project from the start. People are happy to see that we are still working to make this happen and that we are even closer to opening the doors. The energy feels pretty good right now. We are at an exciting stage in our development! ”
Information about the Central Brooklyn Food Coop can be found on their website at cbfood.org. To support the fundraiser, visit their page on Kickstarter.