A new Black-led, cooperatively owned grocery store has officially opened in Detroit’s North End neighborhood. The Detroit People’s Food Co-op, a $21 million project that’s been years in the making, started welcoming shoppers on May 1 and will host a grand opening on May 18. The Detroit Black Community Food Sovereignty Network (DBCFSN) and Develop Detroit spearheaded the creation of the co-op. 

The group’s mission is to provide better access to healthy food and uplift the community. The co-op plans to source fresh produce from Black-run urban farms like DTown Farms, the Oakland Avenue Urban Farm, the Green Boots Project and others. It will also stock food and wellness products from more than 40 local vendors. 

“We have a model of 50/50. So, like 50% healthy and organic, 50% clean and conventional. So, you’ll see products that you’re used to seeing right next to products that you are not used to seeing,” Detroit People’s Food Co-op Board President Lanay Gilbert Williams said.  

According to United Way’s ALICE Report, which stands for Asset Limited Income Constrained and Employed, around three in four Detroiters may not have access to healthy foods regularly.  

“It’s like 70% of households that meet that ALICE threshold where they’re very likely facing food insecurity on some semi-regular basis,” Detroit Food Map Initiative Project Director Alex Hill said. Detroit has lost roughly a dozen grocery stores in the last decade, he said. 

BridgeDetroit reporter Jena Brooker and One Detroit’s Jonathan Shead examine the impact the food co-op will have on healthy food access and economic development in the city. Brooker talks with DBCFSN’s Executive Director Malik Yakini and its Fund Development Director Dr. Shakara Tyler about being more than just a grocery store, but a place where people can increase their understanding of the full process of their food from seed to shelf. Plus, Brooker talks with one of the local vendors, Zella’s Bakery. 

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