by Quinton Sankofa-Oakland Local
Aug 29, 2010
On Aug. 10, Mandela MarketPlace decided to “GO GREEN” by changing how it delivers fresh fruits and vegetables to corner stores.
The Healthy Neighborhood Store Alliance, as the project is called, is coordinated by the MarketPlace’s senior staff members and members of its youth team. The ultimate goal of the alliance is to increase the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables in West Oakland - a community that notoriously suffers from food injustice.
Earlier this year, the West Oakland nonprofit started out delivering fresh fruits and vegetables to Millennium Market (1741 Market St.) and Bottles Liquor (1150 Market St.) using a cargo van. In April, Mandela Marketplace’s youth team W.Y.S.E. - West Oakland Youth Standing Empowered - approached Ashoka Youth Ventures, a project dedicated to investing in youth as change makers in their communities, with an idea. The youth wanted to reduce their carbon footprint by using bicycles with trailers, instead of the cargo van to make their corner store deliveries. After a thought-provoking presentation, the Ashoka community panel unanimously approved W.Y.S.E for seed funding.
With that assistance, Mandela MarketPlace decided to make the switch to green transportation to, not only benefit the environment, but the health of their youth team members as well.
"… With this new, green transportation we not only achieve another level of independence in our operation, but also now have a form of fitness that doesn’t require an expensive gym membership," said James Berk, the outreach specialist for Mandela MarketPlace.
Indeed, James might need a gym membership if the demand for their produce continues to increase. Although it’s too early to light victory cigars and pop champagne, the first few months of the project have yielded remarkable results. To date, W.Y.S.E has delivered more than 4,500 pounds of fruits and vegetables to the two corner stores!
While these numbers are impressive, the response from the community and the storeowners has been outstanding. Customers regularly approach the WYSE team during deliveries and say how much they appreciate having the option to conveniently purchase grapes, potatoes, onions, plums, watermelons, bananas and tomatoes.
Although liquor is a popular item at corner stores I’ve never seen a community member thank the Budweiser guy for keeping the shelves full of ice-cold pilsner. With that said, I guess this spuds for you West Oakland.