It is well documented that food inequality, specifically access to fresh produce, has been an issue in many Chicago communities for some time. As part of the “assalt” on food inequality in Humboldt Park, the Puerto Rican Cultural Center (PRCC) has opened a Fresh Food Cooperative in the heart of Paseo Boricua on the corner of Division and Washtenaw.
On Saturday, August 13 the Co-Op held it’s grand opening where community residents were invited to come see the space and shop for fresh fruits and veggies. There is a great selection, including many caribbean cuisine specific items like yucca and plantains. Also featured for sale are prepared fruit salads and fresh sofrito made from local ingredients grown in the new greenhouse at PACHS High School.
A group of about 50 people gathered for the opening remarks given by Jose Lopez (PRCC), Carlos De Jesus (PACHS) and State Representative Cynthia Soto among others. Future plans for the space include a fresh smoothie bar which will be up an operating soon and a series of educational activities on nutrition and healthy living for Humboldt Park youth.
The store will operate under a true Co-Op model in which the members are the owners who support the store financially with membership and share in the profits at the end of the year.
Part of the business model includes using specially designed bikes from Ciclo Urbano to make deliveries of the Co-Op produce – some area restaurants are already lined up to be clients and receive bicycle delivered produce.
The Co-Op will be open again this next weekend, August 20-21, so stop on by and check it out. Snack on an apple, watermelon or calabacita! The Co-Op will re-open on a regular weekly schedule some time in the next few weeks once the city paperwork is finished and the building brought up to code for use as a commercial store.