Linden Food Security Analysis & Proposal Teajuana Scott Reyna Lusson
Linden Neighborhood Studio Spring 2018 Instructors: Jason Reece and Bernadette Hanlon
Context, Background History
Temporary Solutions, Long-Term Need
Our Proposal: The Linden Co-Op
The Co-Op Model
Cooperatives in Columbus
Challenges Gem City Market: A Case Study
Mission & Membership
Funding & Pricing
Linden & Salem: Demographic Similarities
Accessibility & Location
Introduction In 2015, Local Matters established a Linden Food Planning Group that evaluated food access in Linden in order to determine “neighborhood-specific solutions and define potential next steps for improving access to healthy food and nutrition education in the area” (“Visions for a Healthier Community”). Through their mapping process, they found that the neighborhood was dominated by fast food and corner stores, with only one full-service grocery store-- the Kroger in the Northern Lights shopping center. The community was devastated when the store closed its doors permanently on January 31st, 2018. With their primary food source gone, the neighborhood could now be classified as a food desert or even a food swamp, which is an area with a high density fast food restaurants and corner stores, but a lack of access to healthy and affordable options. The Linden community is in dire need of an alternative solution to a traditional grocery store. For many reasons, we are proposing a co-op model, following closely the design of Dayton’s new Gem City Market. We will outline a proposal that could work in Linden, using data, interviews, research, and food mapping for support. We believe that a cooperative would be the best way to permanently rectify the food insecurity issues in the neighborhood, and support long term food sovereignty.
Context, Background, History Linden has a long history of disinvestment from the City of Columbus. Beginning with redlining and discriminatory lending, the neighborhood has been targeted by racist and classist policies that have had long-lasting effects on the areaâ€™s physical and economic development. Despite this, there are many families who have lived in Linden for generations-- often in the same home-- and celebrate the resilience of the neighborhood. There is a strong base of grassroots community organizers who are advocating for better public resources, increased food security, and infrastructure improvements for Linden.
Temporary Solutions, Long-Term Need There are temporary solutions in place in Linden that will help ease the severity of the Kroger closure, but there hasnâ€™t been a decision yet on what long term solutions might be a possibility. There are many groups working on plans-- from the grassroots community groups, to the City of Columbus Public Health Department. There is currently a free bus program that runs in a loop from the closed Kroger in the Northern Lights Shopping center to the next closest Kroger 2.8 miles away, on Morse rd. However, this solution is extremely temporary, and is not sustainable in the long term. City officials hope that this service could be extended through the summer, but Kroger has not confirmed either way. The neighborhood has a fairly strong emergency food network, with several food banks, pantries, and other subsidized options. While this has itâ€™s obvious benefits, and is necessary given the current situations, some community and city leaders believe that this could actually inhibit the neighborhoodâ€™s long-term food security. With so many subsidized options, it becomes difficult for full-service grocery stores to be successful in selling full priced goods, since they are unable to compete with these reduced prices. The neighborhood Save-a-Lot remains open, but residents have been very clear that they want, need, and deserve a full-service grocery store. In surveys distributed after the Kroger closing, many people indicated that the Kroger was vital not only for food, but for paying bills, buying money orders, along with other financial services. Convenience stores and discount grocery stores do not offer these services, and also do not offer fresh produce consistently. Additionally, residents have expressed their desire for the more dignified experience of shopping in a full-service grocery store.
our proposal: THE LINDEN CO-OP City leaders are trying to negotiate with other grocery stores in attempts to get another chain to takeover the Kroger building, but it’s proven to be difficult. The failing of the Kroger does not make for an attractive sell for other grocery retailers. Like we mentioned earlier, the abundance of subsidized options make it difficult for traditional grocery stores to compete in this market. It is for this reason, among others, that we are proposing a co-op model. A cooperative would be able to serve the community’s needs in a much more flexible and direct way than a corporate grocery chain, which has stringent bottom lines and narrow profit margins that must be met. Additionally, a co-op would offer added benefits to members, shoppers, and the community at large. The profits earned by the establishment would go back into supporting the community, rather than to a large corporation that has no real investment in the neighborhood itself. The list of individual and member benefits listed on the Near East Side Co-ops website do a good job outlining what the objectives of the Linden co-op would be, as well: -Decision-making opportunities by voting for board members and initiatives. -Financial benefits through discounts, sales, and store credits for volunteer efforts. -Social responsibility by promoting local, organic and healthy food for their neighbor hood. -Educational opportunity through classes and programs. (Source: “Near East Side Cooperative Market”)
the Co-op Model: An overview A cooperative is a business thatâ€™s owned collectively by its members, and is designed to benefit its employees, members, and the community at large. Co-ops have the potential to contribute to long-term economic stability-- unlike transient businesses that come and go, and have no real stake in the community. As we saw with the closing of the Kroger, large corporations have strict bottom lines to maintain, and do not take community needs into account when determining whether to remain open. We believe that a co-op model grocery store could help to establish long-term food security in Linden, and ensure that profits a going directly back into the community.
cooperatives in columbus Columbus has seen other successful cooperatives, such as Pattycake Bakery, Bottoms Up, and Third Hand Bicycle Co-Op. The Clintonville Community Market and Near East Side Grocery Co-Op functioned with a similar structure to what weâ€™re proposing, but ultimately closed down due to financial reasons, and possibly problems with management in the case of the Clintonville Community Market. The successes and shortcomings of these previous attempts at grocery co-ops in Columbus have helped to inform our proposal, and offer valuable insight for moving forward.
challenges After meeting with Noreen Warnock, who is the co-founder of Local Matters and also one of the core people who started the East Side Co-op, we walked away with some valuable lessons about what it would really take for this type of model to be successful in Columbus. Commitment • Noreen and Lela both emphasized that in order for a co-op to flourish, there must be a core group of people dedicatating a large amount of time and effort into driving the project forward-- all the way through the brainstorming, fundraising, and implementation phases. Community Support • Community feedback, leadership, and commitment to this idea is vital for a co-op to work. If the community isn’t invested in the idea, it is bound to fail. Therefore, community input should be sought right from the beginning, and should reamin in leadership positions throughout the entire process. Co-ops are meant to serve the neighborhood they’re located in, and without buy-in from those in the area, this model cannot succeed. Funding • Another of the most crucial elements to making any project of this nature work is securing ample funding to put the project into motion as well as maintain the long-term sustainability of business. This is especially important for co-ops, because they often are not extremely profitable in their initial years of operation. Therefore, financial planning must extend for years into operation, which should ideally include continue financial support from the city. This should come from investors and stakeholders, but the model should always be about meeting the needs of the community, rather than attracting outside visititors.
Gem City Market: a case study In order to understand how the co-op model has worked in other similar communities, and how it might be implemented in Linden, we are focusing on Daytonâ€™s Gem City Market as a case study that could be followed closely. The founders of the market even offered to share their financial information, as well as more details about their process, should community leaders in Liden and the city of Columbus choose to pursue this option.
mission The Gem City Market is a 15,00 square feet full-service grocery store located along lower Salem Avenue in Dayton, that’s scheduled to open in 2019. As stated on their website, “the Gem CIty Market project is a community-led initiative coordinated by the Greater Dayton Union Co-op Initiative (GDUCI). GDUCI was founded in 2015 by members of the Dayton community committed to the twin missions of addressing Dayton’s food crisis and incubating cooperative businesses to bring sustainable jobs to Dayton” (source: Source: https://gemcitymarket.com). The majorative of products stocked in the store will be purchased from a wholesaler, with the goal of sourcing 15-2-% of produce locally.
membership • The baseline price of membership is $100 • Membership benefits include owning $100 worth of equity in the store, special pricing once the store is open for operation, and the promise of eventually recieving a percentage of earnings once the store is profitable. • There will also be a subsidized membership option for people on food assistance, which reduces the price of membership to $10. The remaining $90 is fundraised by the co-op, so that these members still own $100 worth of equity in the store. • Of these first 800 members, more than half are within the trade area, and the majority live in the neighborhood. • Membership holders will own the store, govern the store, and participate in shareholder meetings. • 800 memberships have been sold so far, which has raised $80,000 from memberships alone. • 30% of the business will be owned by the community, with 70% owned by the employees.
funding • The target is to reach 4 million dollars to begin initial construction and operation of the store by the year of 2019. • Goal of 2000 community shares to be sold upon opening doors of the store. • The co-op has received 1.25 million in investments so far from investors, memberships, and donations
Some donations and investors include: • City of Dayton, $10,000 • Healthy Food for Ohio, $20,000 • CareSource, $220,000 • Dayton Rotary Club, $50,000
pricing • Products will be comperable with pricing at Kroger and other chain retailers; similar to Kroger’s WOW brand • Products will primarily be inexpensive store brand items, and there won’t be name brand items
timeline 2015: • Initial idea is formed • Research phase begins • Community members, leaders and organizers begin to meet regularly
2017: • Business plan completed • Grocery store incorporated under Ohio’s co-op lawGDUCI volunteers hold meetings, house parties, go door to door to engage community and build membership • $4 million dollar goal to be met to begin construction
2019: • Construction underway, shares continue to be sold • Store Opens
2016: • GDUCI commissions market study • GDUCI formally incorporated, survey conducted • GDUCI determines feasibility GDUCI drafts business plan
2018: • $4 million goal to be met to begin construction • Construction underway, shares continue to be sold
linden & salem: demographic similarities The neighborhood of Salem, in Dayton Ohio, is strikingly similar in many ways to Linden. Salem is a predominantly black, low-income community-- situated within historically-segregated Dayton. Like Linden, the neighborhood was hit hard by the recession of the early 2000’s, and has faced continual disinvestment from the city. Both neighborhoods have recently seen their only full-service grocery store go under (coincidentally a Kroger in both situations) and now could be classified as food deserts. To combat this food insecurity, a few extremely dedicated individuals have devoted the last few years to designing, fundraising, and planning a cooperative grocery store called the Gem City Market. Because of the demographic and historical similarities, we believe that a similar model could work in Linden to combat food insecurity, and address the community’s needs.
Linden • Population: 39,982 in all of Linden; 8,700 in South Linden • 75 percent African American • Median income: $25,000 per year • 66.3 percent of population receives food assistance • 12.3 percent living below the poverty line
Salem • Popularion: 20,000 • 77 percent African American • 1/3 of population receiving food assistance • Median income: $27,000 per year • 35 percent living below the poverty line (Northwest Dayton)
accessibility & Location If the Linden Cooperative were a similar size to the Gem City Market at around 15,000 sq ft, there are a few possible locations for the store. Lela, from the Gem City Market, explained that that they decided to locate the store in the most economically stable part of Daytonâ€™s high need neighborhood. They did this so that the store can fulfill its purpose of serving vulnerable populations, while attracting enough customers who can pay full price for the business to stay afloat. This is a possible idea we could translate to Linden. When the Linden Kroger closes, many residents voiced that the loss of a pharmacy and a way to wire money were nearly as significant as the loss of the food source. Because of this, we would want to ensure that the coop had these ammeneties.
community leadership One of the fundamental principles of co-ops is that they are meant to be operated for and by the community. Community leadership is fundamental to the sucess of the co-op, all the way from ideation to implementation. Since Linden residents have already taken part in numerous surveys and interviews as part of the cityâ€™s many neighborhood redevelopment plans, we used the the most recent feedback available to us, especially that which was collected right after the Kroger closed, to give us a sense of the communities wants and needs. Should we proceed with a co-op in Linden, we would want to ensure that there was a lot of community engagement right from the get-go, and that the core founders driving the project, to ensure that it stays centered around meeting the neighborhoodâ€™s needs.
affordability Unlike itsâ€™ competitors, the Linden Co-Op would not be offering high end products in an effort to keep the prices of the items as affordable as possible. The prices will be comperable to Krogerâ€™s WOW brand. Additionally, memebership holders will be able to purchase items at a further reduced price. With affordable prices like this, residents will be able to shop in a full-service grocery store, having the dignified shopping experience they deserve, without sacraficing convenience or health. The maket could also offer courses on meal planning and healthy eating on a budget, to ensure that people can utilitize these resources to their full extent. With the current foodscape, options like cornerstores and fast food are currently the easiest and cheapest options for people, but a co-op could change that entirely.
conclusion To conclude, our analysis of Lindenâ€™s food insecurity has led us to believe that cooperative- style full service grocery store would be the best solution. With the right leadership, planning, and funding, a cooperative could help establish longterm food security in the neighborhood, in a way that supports and doesnâ€™t exploit residents. With sustained commitment from community and city leaders, Linden could be home to a co-op similar to the Gem City Market, and see many of the same benefits.
works cited 1. GDUCI. “Timeline.” Gem City Market, GDUCI, 2018, gemcitymarket.com/ 2. “South Linden, Columbus, OH Employment.” The Best Places To Live, AreaVibes Inc., 2018, www.areavibes.com/columbus-oh/ +linden/employment/. 3. Baca, Nathan. “Mayor Ginther Focusing On Improving Linden & Hilltop Areas.” WBNS-10TV Columbus, Ohio | Columbus News, Weather & Sports, 19 May 2016, www.10tv.com/article/mayor-ginther-focusing-improving-linden-hilltop-areas. 4. “Near East Side Cooperative Market.” Near East Side Cooperative Market | Co-Op Grocer Network, www.grocer. coop-near-east-side-cooperative-market.
special thanks to: Lela Klein, Gem City Market Noreen Warnock, Local Matters Jenny Scheinbach, Pattycake Bakery Columbus Department of Public Health
Imagining a food cooperative for Linden.