People living in the middle of a food desert either have to leave their local community to get healthy food or settle for highly processed foods. West Oakland has only one grocery store to serve nearly 25,000 people, whereas surrounding areas have one store for every four or five thousand people.
The only other options for food are convenience stores. Convenience stores typically sell a few canned and processed foods alongside a wide selection of candies, chips, and soda. Prices for these foods are 30%-100% higher than for the same foods at a grocery store.
Founded in 2002, the People’s Grocery seeks to provide access to healthy food through sustainable agriculture, local food businesses, and education. An urban farm and greenhouse form the core of the sustainable agriculture program.
The People’s Grocery runs a CSA (community supported agriculture) program designed to make it easy for low-income customers to access fresh fruits and vegetables as well as some other healthy foods, like whole wheat bread and brown rice. They also offer a wholesale program so that local businesses can purchase organic and natural foods and wholesale prices.
Health and nutrition education is an important part of living well. One-third of the local schoolchildren are at risk of developing diabetes. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in West Oakland.
The People’s Grocery offers “edible education” every week, which examines issues in the food justice movement, along with cooking classes, health and nutrition demonstrations, and youth programs.
The short video features Wen Lee of the Center for the New American Dream as she profiles the People’s Grocery.
Image by star5112, used with Creative Commons license.