Southside Food Co-op, Inc. (SSFC)
A Movement of Collective Empowerment
A Better Way of Eating, Business, Living, and Life
All Americans deserve access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food. Like many other low-income communities, the South Side of Chicago that lacks enough food retailers that carry affordable, nutritious food.
Southside Food Co-op (SSFC) is a Black-led, community-owned cooperative grocery store bringing affordable healthy foods, quality goods, and local products to south side neighborhoods that have endured decades of disinvestment.
Our vision of food sovereignty on the south side includes creating access to foods our community loves: collard greens, eggplants, okra, and summer squash. We will stock local produce and jars of honey. We will partner with urban farmers in our neighborhoods to make sure our residents have access to their lovingly grown food. In the process we will create dignified jobs, build generational wealth, and create a place that offers community for local residents.
SSFC is harnessing the wisdom and commitment of neighbors in building this new community asset. William Daniels visionary of the project and Rev. Bernadine Harvin, who is a lifelong resident of the south side, is leading SSFC alongside a working board of fellow south side community members.
In developing the cooperative, Rev. Bernadine is bringing her years of experience, relationships, and trust as a pastor and healer at Cornerstone Family Christian Center alongside her husband Bishop Mark Harvin who serve the Englewood and West Englewood. In engaging in the laborious work to build a cooperative, Rev. Harvin was inspired by this quote by author Toni Sorenson: “When you learn to see your struggles as opportunities to become stronger, better, wiser, then your thinking shifts from "I can't do this" to "I must do this.”
SSFC is partnering with experienced cooperative developers, Food Cooperative Initiative and Columinate to design the cooperative in a way that harness wisdom and meets the needs of local residents. The co-op also builds on and supports the work of local urban agriculture advocates, including Grow Greater Englewood, an organization that has worked to create land access for local farmers.
SSFC recently surpassed 100 member/owners. These member/owners, alongside SSFC’s steering committee, are eager to take the next steps to bring the cooperative to the Southside of Chicago. Through this cooperative development work, SSFC will engage residents with food in a new way - a way that promotes food sovereignty and autonomy. South siders will directly impact their own food access by coming together around a collective vision and the hard work of bringing that vision to life. Once SSFC opens, we believe it will be a transformative asset for the south side and a place that embodies how our relationship to food should be.
Our goals as a Cooperative:
Partner with local farmers to facilitate alliance and networks, thereby keeping much needed revenue circulating and remaining with the locality. Creating a more vibrant neighborhood and generational wealth.
Partner with African American vendors to not only promote their products but present training and education for our members and consumers about a better way of eating that will either help manage, or prevent pre-existing conditions such as hypertension, heart disease, or diabetes.
Strive to promote universal unity through special events held within a designated area of the cooperative.