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After Years of Planning, Central Brooklyn Moves Closer to Launch of Food Coop

Downpayment for storefront location secured after Kickstarter campaign raised $30,000 in six days
Screen Shot 2019-10-28 at 11.24.46 AM
Ena McPherson of Tranquility Farm Photo: News 12 Screenshot

Almost everyone would agree: Healthy food should be a right, not a privilege.

Residents of Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights may soon earn that right to fresh, organic, affordable food, if the organizers behind the Central Brooklyn Food Coop (CBFC) get their way.

Following years of planning, organizing, surveying and enlisting a few dozen core members, the group finally has launched a Kickstarter campaign to bring the coop to life! And judging from the campaign's first few weeks of donation, it's clear Central Brooklyn is ready for local fresh food! 

The campaign, which started on Oct. 16, had the goal of raising $25,000 by Nov. 22 to support a down-payment for their physical storefront, which they plan to open in spring 2020. Within six days of being live, the campaign surpassed its target goal and was updated to include three more stretch goals.

"That's very demonstrative of how the community has been excited and waiting for this and how much organizational support we have among friends in the coop," said Bianca Bockman, director of RiseBoro's food justice program.

RiseBoro, an organizational partner with the Brooklyn Movement Center, is supporting this campaign. 

The idea of a food coop started six years ago during one of Brooklyn Movement Center's community Grub parties, during a discussion about the effects of gentrification on the food economy in the Central Brooklyn. Already considered a food desert-— an area that has limited access to affordable and healthy food-- Central Brooklyn, with gentrification, witnessed the problem worsening, as the newer food businesses opening in the areas were not affordable to the residents.

Bockman is adamant that the CBFC will benefit parts of the community others seemed to have forgotten: "What's different about this project is that it's owned by the community, it's a consumer-owned food coop."

Much like the Park Slope Food Coop model, anyone in the community can become a member of the CBFC for $125 or $15 for those from low and moderate-income families. Members then give two and a half hours of labor monthly to the coop, which can vary from working at the check-out counter to stocking shelves or contributing one's expertise in marketing or design and more. This shared community work aids in keeping the cost of food down as there will be little to no expense for labor. 

So far, the coop has enlisted 54 members since January 2019. As far as location, CBFC members have identified the commercial corridor along Fulton Street  (between Ralph and Nostrand Avenues) as an ideal area for the CBFC storefront. 

"What we are trying to do with this project is to build a new food economy and a food economy that will benefit low and moderate-income people and people of color," said Bockman. With this consumer-model, they're aiming to price their goods at least about 20 percent below neighborhood pricing.  

The coop will partner with local farms and producers owned and operated by people of color. So consumers will know exactly where the food comes from and who produces it. 

Community members can still support the campaign, which ends on Nov. 22, on its new stretch goal to raise $100,000 for their Renovation Fund, Community Space Fund and to help with community programming.

To become a member of the Central Brooklyn Food Coop, go here.