Organic Consumers Association

Delivering Organic Food to Low-Income Neighborhoods in Oakland

From <>
August 15, 2003


9 August, By Putsata Reang,

Shortly the "Mobile Market", a solar-powered delivery truck rigged with shelves, coolers and crates, will cruise West Oakland selling organic produce, snacks and bulk foods. It's the latest innovation in making organic food, with its elitist reputation, accessible to low-income people in a corner of the country notorious for advancing organic eating.

The movable market, which will sell seasonal produce from local farmers, is the brainchild of three community activists who saw a dearth of healthy food in West Oakland, where liquor stores stake claims on every other corner and supermarkets are scarce.

"We were here living in West Oakland and knew access to food is really a major issue," said Brahm Ahmadi, a co-founder. "West Oakland has 30,000 residents, one grocery store and 40 liquor stores. So we developed this
concept: Let's bring the food to them."

The grocery van is one of three programs run by the People's Grocery, a recently established nonprofit organization founded by Ahmadi, 28, and two friends, Malaika Edwards, 28, and Leander Sellers, 25.

When it started in 2001, the People's Grocery received $189,000 in grants from the Columbia Foundation, among other social justice foundations. Part of the money was used to help launch the Mobile Market, and a smaller amount will be used to help offset the higher premium set on organic food -- something that Ahmadi says is essential to lure prospective customers.

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