Are Worker Owned Groceries The Solution to Food Swamps?
Worker owned grocery stores are increasingly making healthy food accessible in areas traditionally considered food deserts and food swamps, explains Daniel Reyes in this guest column for the Cooperative Development Institute. Reyes delves into how food deserts are the results of decades (centuries even) of structural violence, and cooperatives are uniquely situated to overcome this structural violence because of the way in which "the cooperative movement often frames itself as an effort to regain local and democratic control over key community resources." Reyes distinguishes between cooperatives whose main goal is to provide sustainable food and those whose explicit goal is to provide healthy food into communities considered to be food deserts. While the first often share goals with the latter (and vice versa), the latter explicitly lays out the importance of a democratically controlled grocery store as a community asset.
Reyes provides a list of food cooperatives that are working to battle food deserts across the country, and some of innovative measures they have adopted in order to do so. If you are trying to find a way to increase food access in your community, this article is well worth a read. Worker owned grocery stores not only increase food access, but empower community members with stable jobs, and the ability to make decisions about what kind of food they want in their community.