Three Social Enterprises That Are Improving Food Access

Meghan French Dunbar March 5, 2016

Mariposa Food Co-op

Location: Philadelphia, PA

The Gist: As a consumer-owned cooperative with day-to-day operations run by a democratically governed staff collective, Mariposa embodies the political undercurrent of community ownership in the food movement. Located in West Philadelphia, the Mariposa Membership Fund subsidizes the cost of membership ($200) for low-income residents, with a goal of offering this subsidy to at least 10 percent of its membership. Through the Eating Healthy on a Tight Budget initiative, the co-op offers free monthly workshops that focus on balancing health, nutrition, and personal budgets.


The ReFresh Project

Location: New Orleans, LA

The Gist: In February 2014, as part of the renovation of a 60,000-square-foot supermarket vacant since Hurricane Katrina, a new Whole Foods Market in New Orleans celebrated its grand opening as part of a broader initiative to bring healthy food and economic opportunity to the surrounding neighborhood. The site shares space with a network of community-oriented nonprofits and businesses known as the ReFresh Project, which includes Liberty’s Kitchen, a nonprofit providing culinary training to at-risk youth and meals to public schools, and Tulane University’s Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine, the first teaching kitchen in the US associated with a medical school. The ReFresh Project has generated 175 full- and part-time jobs since opening and aims to serve as a community health hub for the surrounding area, where 50 percent of the 22,000 residents are low- to-moderate income.


Arcadia Mobile Market

Location: Washington, DC

 The Gist: This farmers market on wheels pairs affordable, healthy food with nutrition education programs to reach Washington DC’s food-insecure neighborhoods. Instead of waiting for investors to build grocery stores in these areas, the mobile market-in-a-bus brings fresh, local food to locations that people already frequent, such as recreation centers, churches, and schools. Almost every stop the bus makes (mapped on its website for easy tracking) includes a cooking demonstration to introduce shoppers to new and seasonal produce they may not be familiar with.


Stakeholder Capitalism
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