Sep 19, 2022
Access to Healthy Food and Mission-Driven Markets
In this episode, Tinu speaks with Ben Perkins, the Director of the Board for Wholesome Wave and Philip Sambol, Executive Director of Oasis Community Partners. Together, they discuss the impact of healthy food access, how to create mission-driven markets in low-income communities, and the importance of democratizing wellness.
“When engaging in communities, we have to have fidelity to those communities. What does fidelity mean? It means being in an authentic relationship with the community so that whatever solution is created is a co-creation, not the old model of experts coming in, swooping in, and telling communities what they need, that ultimately the community has to be part of the solution. And that is foundational.” - Ben Perkins
* 02:16 Ben and Philip’s 3 aspects that make up their identities
* 05:07 What is a food desert
* 09:59 The impact of community grocery stores
* 12:47 What is food insecurity and how does it happen in low-income communities
* 16:22 How do institutions facilitate better solutions to nutrition insecurity in lower income communities
* 19:25 How can small grocery stores operate in a way that is beneficial to consumers and the business
* 27:00 Impacts of a lack of healthy food options in low-income communities
* 29:24 Solutions that are available, and need in the future, to alleviate food access issues
1) Large grocery store chains are not profitable in certain areas, which can create a lack of access to healthy foods in these neighborhoods. To combat this, smaller grocery stores can function in these regions by being large enough to support full, fresh food access, while being small enough to be run by a local team. Grocery stores like these, including Good Food Markets, thrive by being mission driven.
2) Poor nutrition is one of the leading causes of sickness in the United States. On top of it creating preventable health issues, it also depresses the earning power of these communities and reduces opportunities for success in educational settings.
3) The most effective way to ensure communities embrace nutritious food, and a healthy lifestyle, is by democratizing wellness, which allows people to reclaim their autonomy and sovereignty over their own communities, bodies, and health choices through creating community ownership.
4) Finding a solution for food access takes time and flexibility. It requires patience and a willingness to invest in a long-term model. The goal is to reduce downstream cost of health issues by investing in upstream solutions.
1) If you are interested in introducing health education and nutritional access to a community through a grocery store, or otherwise, consider partnering with community groups to bring events and programs to meet people where they are. Social impact and financial sustainability are equally as important for nutrition access ventures.
2) If you are a local leader, or government official, examine neighborhoods where fresh food access may be minimal. Call in community members, local businesses, and philanthropies to support nutrition access and education.
About Ben Perkins and Philip Sambol
Ben Perkins is the Director of the Board for Wholesome Wave. Wholesome Wave is a nonprofit organization that combats food and nutrition insecurity across the country by partnering with local organizations to co-design culturally competent programs.
Philip Sambol is Executive Director of Oasis Community Partners, a DC-based nonprofit dedicated to improving food access and community health. Oasis operates the Good Food Markets social enterprise grocery store chain in the DC area. Good Food Market is a mission-driven business committed to developing retail solutions that work for food desert communities, while addressing food access, economic, and health disparities. Good Food Markets is one of the organizations that Wholesome Wave has partnered with in the DC area.
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