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How to Beat a Food Desert

And Save Your Community at the Same Time

Jay Jones RCC President

Jay Jones
President, Renaissance Community Cooperative

“What do you do when the last access to healthy food leaves town?

Organize locally, join your peers nationally, and build it yourself.”
-Jay Jones, President, RCC

After the Winn-Dixie closed, our neighborhood was declared a food desert. We recently organized to keep a landfill out of our community, so we thought, maybe we could organize to solve this too?
We tried to keep the store from leaving, we tried courting other chains to come, but to no avail.

We realized it was up to us — together we’d build our own supermarket as a community owned cooperative. We had the organization and the inspiration, but there was the obvious hole: where would the money come from?

That’s when we learned people were forming the Southern Reparations Loan Fund (SRLF), and that it was a peer in The Working World’s Peer Network. As part of the network, we could access training and capital for businesses that maximize community benefit rather than investor profit. That sounded like us.
The Southern Reparations Loan Fund and its Peer Network came through: they looked over our business plan, and they provided capital patient enough for us to get off the ground and only repay once we are successful.

They gave us more than money though, they helped us realize we could actually do this. That’s how it feels when people believe in you, when you’re not just alone.

Next summer, my neighborhood will have the Renaissance Community Cooperative, and I’ll watch the food desert vanish into the dust the big chains left behind. After we open our doors, it’ll be our turn to pass the support to the next community project: you can do this, you can do anything you organize to do, and you’re not alone.
Thank you for your support,
Jay Jones

The Renaissance Community Cooperative was built with support from peers and people like you.

This holiday season, let’s do it again in more communities:

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