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Food Desert No More: Why a Northeast Greensboro neighborhood raises food for Second Harvest

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A guest blog post from our friends at the Renaisance Community Cooperative in Guilford County!

Food insecurity is a problem that will require multiple strategies to solve. People who want to make sure that we can all eat need to support each other’s efforts to get the job done. From a food bank and its local partners to a community-owned grocery store, we can work together to address these very real issues.

This is why Greensboro’s Renaissance Community Cooperative(RCC) and Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC are partnering for the RCC’s first food drive! Buy non-perishable goods at the RCC (2517 Phillips Avenue, Greensboro, NC 27405) and donate them in-store to Second Harvest.

The Renaissance Community Co-op is a community-owned grocery store that residents of northeast Greensboro created along with friends and allies from across the city, state and country- with technical assistance from The Fund for Democratic Communities. Second Harvest is Northwest NC’s food bank, providing food to over 450 food assistance programs spanning 18 counties, including the Phillips Avenue area where the RCC is located.

In northeast Greensboro, a lot of households suffer from hunger, and people use a variety of resources to get the food they need to supplement their household income, including food pantries and EBT (food stamps).

Prior to October, the grocery stores that people in the Phillips Avenue neighborhood had to choose from were at least two miles away. This meant that those without their own transportation had to pay a neighbor for a ride to the store (sometimes using goods purchased with their EBT), use limited funds to pay a cab, or pay with hours of their time on a bus that has a 4 bag limit per rider. Residents also paid much higher prices to shop in small convenience stores, which lack the variety of food necessary for a healthy diet.

A neighborhood where there is no grocery store within a mile, and where over 1/3 of the population lives below the poverty line is considered a food desert. The Phillips Avenue area became a food desert when a large grocery chain consolidated in 1998, closing many of its stores in the south. This trend of consolidation meant that even though a store could be profitable in an area like Phillips Avenue, they could and often times did, opt to close the smaller neighborhood stores and instead open much larger super stores that many times were located and the more centrally in affluent parts of town.. area they could close smaller neighborhood stores and Other stores refused to open in the neighborhood because while they could be profitable in a neighborhood where, while residents spend upwards of $1.3 million on groceries per week, they could not make as much profit as they could in other areas.

By contrast, the RCC is accountable to its more than 1100 owners, many of whom live in the neighborhood. Because the store’s ownership is dedicated to keeping the store in the neighborhood and providing food at affordable prices, the store will not pick up and leave to chase profits.

Because the store’s owners want to invest in the community and has a mission to provide both affordable food, and good jobs that prevent people from becoming food insecure, the RCC only needs to make enough money to be operational. What is left over will be invested back into the community in ways that encourage neighbors to come together to address other problems in the area. We pay our employees upwards of $10.00 per hour, instead of at the legally required $7.25 because our goal is not to fight poverty with poverty.

Although, the RCC is looking at the larger economic forces that make it difficult for many to access food in North East Greensboro, we recognize that access to a store itself is not enough for many families. While we are building a market that prioritizes people and their needs, we recognize that our neighbors need access to food that is outside the market all together.

People need to eat now, whether they can afford to purchase food or not.

Because we see the struggles so many in our community face, it makes sense to us to partner with Second Harvest Food Bank to raise food that fills local food pantries, and eventually the cupboards of people living in North East Greensboro.

Gwen Frisbie-Fulton of Second Harvest said, “Second Harvest Food Bank sees the need to change the landscape in which we are fighting hunger. We know that the people we are feeding in pantries and soup kitchens today, will be the investors in their communities tomorrow. The successes of RCC in North East Greensboro have shown that.”

By shopping at the RCC, you are investing in North East Greensboro’s future and supporting an economic infrastructure that will alleviate hunger in the area. By donating goods in the store to Second Harvest, you are helping our neighbors who are deeply impacted by the economic forces that made North East Greensboro a food desert 18 years ago, and need your immediate assistance now. Together, we can end food insecurity and the forces that create it.

Most Needed Items Include:

Canned tuna or salmon Canned chicken or turkey Dried & canned beans or peas Peanut butter Dried or Evaporated Milk Rice Oatmeal Pasta Pasta Sauce Canned Vegetables Canned Fruit Low-Sugar Cereals Deodorant Shampoo Diapers Feminine Hygiene Products Every purchase of non-perishable items for the food drive will get you one ticket in the raffle! On December 19th, at the holiday party, we’ll give away a $100 gift certificate! On January 13th one lucky shopper will win a turkey and on January 30th we’ll give away a delicious ham!

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Find Your Way to Feed Community.

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$1 provides 7 meals.


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Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC

3655 Reed St. 

Winston-Salem, NC 27107

Tel: 336-784-5770

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