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Outpost's Board of Directors will use this blog to discuss issues the board is exploring as it envisions Outpost's future. Can't make it to a meeting? Check here frequently to read what the Board is up to. Your current Outpost Board of...
Your Board

Access: The other side of a fair food economy

Board Beet
By Your Board on January 2, 2015

In a recent Sounding Board blog, director Ava Hernandez highlighted issues of justice in the food supply chain and the myriad ways that Outpost is working to achieve greater equity in the way food is grown, processed, and sold.

Access – to healthy and affordable food - is another part of the food justice equation. Food cooperatives have long understood the critical importance of access. For example, the original Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers in England was formed to provide affordable and unadulterated food to its members. Similarly, most food cooperatives started out primarily as means to supply their members with items not widely available in industrialized food systems.  Although healthy, organic, and natural products are now seen on more grocers’ shelves, issues of access persist, primarily related to affordability and geographic proximity.

Outpost’s Board and management are placing a special focus on access during the upcoming year, planting the seeds for long-term initiatives to address issues of accessibility and availability of healthy foods in more neighborhoods.  We are working on this from a number of fronts:

  • A deepening partnership with Walnut Way and the Lindsay Heights healthy neighborhood initiative has resulted in plans to pilot a small format Outpost store as a component of the new Innovation and Wellness Commons on North Ave. If demand warrants, a larger store may be developed at that site in the future. [Read more about this partnership]
  • Expansion of Outpost’s wholesale business is another way we are increasing access to healthy foods. Did you know that you can find Outpost products at a (growing) number of places, including hospitals, health clubs, and even a downtown restaurant?
  • There are many advantages of cooperative ownership and the cooperative business model, and so we are seeking to address potential barriers to Outpost ownership in an effort to make ownership more accessible for anyone who wants to become an owner.
  • Affordability of healthy food is something we also take seriously. While the true value of good food is priceless, unhealthy food is (unfortunately) often cheaper on a dollar-per-calorie basis.
  1. We have ongoing processes in place to monitor prices, enhance value, and find savings for our owners and shoppers, making healthy choices more affordable.
  2. Recent changes in the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program will likely allow Outpost to participate more fully, and we are exploring other possibilities as well. For example, we have already launched a program that teaches $4/day cooking to clients at one of our community partners, Meta House
  3. If, like me, you love to cook, the bulk bins and spice jars at Outpost provide a wealth of choices and great value. I always stock up when bulk items go on sale, for even greater savings.

As these examples demonstrate, access to healthy food has many components, and far-ranging benefits. Outpost’s mission is to contribute to a healthy, diverse, and sustainable community, and our focus on access will help to advance food justice in meaningful ways.

Do you have any examples of barriers to access that you would like Outpost to consider, or can you share success stories from programs or organizations that have contributed to greater access to healthy food?

Board President, Will Kort


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