Good Food Jobs
One of the first things we learned when we started Communities for Healthy Food is that many people aren’t eating healthy food because quality fresh produce and healthy staple foods are usually too expensive. And, while the number of billionaires has doubled since the economic crash in 2008, most of the rest of us have only felt more of a squeeze on our incomes, with ever-lower paying jobs. Income inequality is reaching new heights - the lower half of U.S. households held just 1% of total wealth last year, down from 3% in 1989.
For people to eat healthy, we have to be able to afford it. At NEBHDCo, we offer opportunities for folks to get good jobs in the food system. We’ve teamed up with experts to train folks in the skills they need to support themselves in leading prosperous and healthy lives.
Jump-start Cooperative Food Businesses and Start a Bed-Stuy Cooperative Council
We ran our first 10-week long course for prospective entrepreneurs from March 13th- May 18th. These courses provided our 46 participants, all mostly residents of Bed-Stuy, with the basics on business planning and cooperative governance. We are now working with three prospective businesses that have come out of this intensive course to perfect their business plans and launch their enterprises. We are also working with two neighborhood food businesses who are considering converting to a worker coop model. Check Out this news story about the project on the Laura Flanders show from September, 2015.
This course is now being followed with ongoing coaching and support and strong connections to NYC’s growing network of worker cooperative developers. Graduates have now entered the workshopping phase of the program and will be collaborating with The Working World (TWW) and NEBHDCo staff to prepare business plans and move toward launching their new cooperative businesses in Bed-Stuy. Together, TWW’s trainings and coaching demystify business planning for first-time entrepreneurs. In addition, their financing is suited to people who may not own significant assets because they require no personal guarantees and are only repaid when business projects are successful.
Our long-term goal in Bed-Stuy is to create a democratic cooperative council to make decisions about program priorities and development. The goal would be to share programmatic control between residents who have completed the academy, The Working World and NEBHDCo program staff. The full council would be empowered to make decisions on the program’s mission, financing for new cooperatives, and strategic direction. With time, the ultimate goal will be for local residents to fully control the cooperative development program and become its primary stewards, in order to create a truly community-led, self-sustaining local economy in Bed-Stuy. We welcome new people to the project on an ongoing basis. Get in touch to plug-in!