Central Brooklyn Meals Coop takes an enormous step ahead – Our Time Press

The food coop is in operation

A new black-run food cooperative offering fresh produce, healthy foods and other nutritious foods opens next year in Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights. It took a long time, but after the cheers from the organizers and the enthusiastic reception from the local residents, it was worth the wait. And people from outside the neighborhood are also welcome (some longtime Brooklyn residents will recall that while the Central Brooklyn Food Coop was featured in multiple news media as the first black-owned initiative of its kind, it wasn’t. In the 1970s Years ago, the East organization ran Kununuana, a grocery store that sold groceries and products on Fulton Street (corner of Claver Place).

The Coop has raised nearly $ 35,000 on Kickstarter, reaching its first goal of $ 25,000 in just six days. They plan to use these donations to rent a storefront on Fulton Street. The campaign ends at midnight on November 22nd, and when the $ 100,000 target 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 meant to have an impact on a particular 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 (CFC).

“The CBFC is one of the founding campaigns for the Brooklyn Movement Center,” said Winston Griffith. “So that’s a huge shot in the arm!”

It takes a long time to get something so critical and comprehensive to work. But Winston Griffith is a longtime community activist and organizer with patience and perspective. He learned the value of incremental steps; Delays, setbacks and rethinking are to be expected and can help build a tried and tested team.

Because Coop is the BMC’s ideas and passion project, the Coop board members are working with him to rebuild an affordable and sustainable local food industry. However, Coop will also act independently, linking its work with the overarching goals of its communities and building useful and sustainable partnerships with like-minded sources and resources.

The CBFC already benefits from its existing collaborations with RiseBoro Community Partnerships and Brooklyn Packers. His shopping club has supported local farmers and bakeries, etc., many of which are black-owned businesses.

As gentrification continues in Bedford Stuyvesant and Crown Heights, many people whose families have been there for generations can’t – or don’t want to – the high-end supermarkets and twee coffeehouses. But their patronage is critical to these 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 this without building an institution that offers tangible benefits and covers 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 CBFC since 2014. Today she is on the Board of Directors and Co-President of the Coop Business and Strategy Committee. As a long-time member of the Park Slope Food Coop, she was thrilled when she first learned that a healthy eating initiative like the CBFC was coming to her neighborhood. And it will be governed by the PSFC, one of the largest (with 17,000 members) and longest-running cooperatives in the country. As a cooperative, it has only remained successful for members in which everyone – with the exception of paid employees – works the same number of hours per month and low-income members receive a discount on the initial and membership fees.

Ina is dedicated 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 forecasting. We have over 50 committed members in the Coop, 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 the store opens in 2020. “

It affirms Winston Griffith’s belief that the CBFC is in the right place at the right time and is ready to make a difference not just for – but also for the community.

“We are a mission-driven cooperative that aims to provide healthy food 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 a reality and that we are even closer to opening the doors. The energy feels pretty good right now. We are in an exciting phase of our development! ”

For information about the Central Brooklyn Food Coop, visit cbfood.org and to support the fundraiser, visit their page on Kickstarter.

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