Partner Spotlight: Dorchester Food Co-Op

We sat down with our partner, the Dorchester Food Co-Op.

A selection of veggies at the Dorchester co op

What is the mission of the Dorchester Community Food Co-op?

Dorchester Food Co-op is more than just a grocery store; we are a community and worker-owned establishment dedicated to making healthy food accessible and fostering economic opportunity through neighborhood engagement. We challenge the traditional food system by building a community and worker-owned asset that nourishes, employs, and reinvests in the local community.

What are some recent accomplishments for the Co-op?

Opening the store in October 2023, was a huge accomplishment. Twelve years ago, a small group of people in Dorchester started thinking about the food landscape. There was a sense at that time that the quality of food was not very good for people who lived in Dorchester, especially in particular neighborhoods. We started to talk to our neighbors and community organizations neighbors about starting a new food coop in Dorchester. We started organizing and people were excited. We spent the next several years launching interim food projects in the neighborhood while building our membership. We also decided to place the store in a part of Dorchester that is the most underserved, where there was lots of food insecurity, and where the store would have the greatest impact. Last year we were able to open our fully stocked and fully staffed grocery store on Bowdoin Street in Dorchester . We are also proud to have been able to hire from the neighborhood. Most of our staff live in Dorchester, Mattapan and Roxbury and are 100% BIPOC identified.

Why a Co-op?

Food co-ops are owned by their members and a great way to support the local economy. Co-ops tend to purchase from local farms and reinvest in the community through job opportunities. They carry more food that is grown sustainably and support local entrepreneurs. We did a lot of research on various models of co-ops and chose a hybrid model where both community members are owners and those who work at the store are also owners. Today we have over 2,000 household member-owners.

Describe the Dorchester Food Co-op’s relationship with the Trustees?

Over the past 12 years we’ve built many strong partnerships with community groups working on food justice, building a sustainable environment, urban farming, and a democratic economy. The Trustees have been with us every step of the way. They have co sponsored numerous events at the Nightingale Community Garden (owned by the Trustees) such as the Green New Deal Dance Party, Juneteenth Celebration, as well as our Pumpkin Festival.

Any further thoughts?

We were very intentional about opening the coop in a diverse community that struggles with food insecurity and economic development. We think having access to healthy food is a human right, something everyone needs. The challenge with affordability continues to be an issue; sustainably grown food from small local farmers tends to be more expensive. What we will continue to do is seek grant support but also ask people across the Boston neighborhoods to help. If you care about food justice, racial and economic justice and empowering communities, we urge you to come shop at the Co-op. (All are welcome to shop at the co-op—not just members) We have a beautiful store and café that was designed with a lot of community input. Come discover a new neighborhood of Boston or a resource that’s around the corner from you while supporting this great project.

The Dorchester Community Food Co-op is located at 195 Bowdoin St. in Dorchester. Open Daily: 8AM – 8PM.

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