In the wake of the recent tragedy, there are certain things that we can do, to swiftly and directly help the East Side community where the attack occurred. For far too long the East Side has been considered a food desert, with very few options for the community to source healthy and wholesome foods. But there are ways to combat this – ways that have been pinpointed, but never fully realized.
One of the quickest way to bring help to the East Side, especially the Fruit Belt, is to invest in the African Heritage Food Co-op (AHFC ). This project has been gaining steam over the years, but it still needs help getting off the ground. In order to hasten the clip of the market coming to fruition, the Fruit Belt Advisory Council, African Heritage Food Co-op, as well as Fruit Belt leaders and residents, came together at the future home of the Co-op (238 Carlton Street), to address the mounting needs of the district.
The group is calling for private and public funding to speed up the arrival of the Co-op, as the need is now greater than ever. Once open, the market will be a self sufficient model that will not only provide fresh and wholesome food to the neighborhood, it will also serve as a trickle down model that will support black farmers and makers, who will help to stock the shelves of the market. This is the type of local food supply chain model that every neighborhood should have, especially those in underserved communities.
The opening of the Co-op would be a win-win for the entire city that is now rallying around the East Side. It will also send a message that, in the face of racism in any form, we will become more resilient, more caring, more self-sufficient, and better fortified. It’s too bad that it took a tragedy of this nature for this Co-op to get the attention that it has always deserved. Hopefully this will be one of many united East Side community investment rallying initiatives moving forward. The time is now to unite this city, by creating a fairer playing field for all of its residents.
“The opportunity to finally create real investment that helps all residents of the Fruit Belt is due to the unfortunate and senseless massacre that happened at Tops,” said Fruit Belt Advisory Council President Dennice Barr. “That’s not okay, but now is the time.. Economic development and prosperity for generations to come is what we need, deserve, and we’ll accept nothing less.”
The goal is is to raise $3 million – the community has said that they would like that money to come from individuals, governmental entities, and values-aligned corporate sponsors.
“The Fruit Belt neighborhood is in desperate need of fresh food, fruit, vegetables, and items that would contribute to a nutritious diet and overall healthy lifestyle, said Elverna Gidney, a long-time, proud Fruit Belt resident. “We have been strategically manipulated out of our economic resources by various institutions in the past, including the government and private sector. It’s past time for them to do the right thing and invest in AHFC now.”
Donations are being accepted through African Heritage Food Co-op’s website at myahfc.com. Corporate donors, governmental entities, and large donors can contact AHFC co-founder Alexander Wright by email at email@example.com.
To learn more about the Co-op, click here.