Our Co-op was built on the premise that we all deserve easy access to healthy, clean, and wholesome food. We cater to people who care about what they’re putting into their bodies and are concerned about the impact their food has on the people who produced it and the planet.
Each day we do our best to honor these concerns by bringing in the highest quality foods available and as we watch the growing number of members and supporters walk through our doors, we recognize that a whole swath of people in our community aren’t so lucky.
The sad fact is that right now our food system enables the most processed and poisonous foods to be the cheapest and most accessible, while the healthiest and least processed foods have become “a privilege.” Despite slashing our margins to offer highly competitive pricing (especially with our monthly specials), there is just no way to consistently beat the artificial pricing of the heavily-subsidized agricultural model underlying the processed food industry. And frankly, we find this unfair and inhumane.
Our commitment is to healthy food and a healthy planet, and we dream of the day that healthy eating is supported by sound economic incentives. Until then, we’re coming up with ways to extend the reach of the healthy products and foods that we go to great lengths to source and stock. The bottom line is that health is a natural right, and healthy food is the foundation upon which it stands.
For these reasons, the Round Up for Food Justice Program was born. Perhaps you’ve noticed the signs at the register, or even decided to round up to the nearest dollar while checking out, and maybe you’ve wondered about how this program is actually addressing something as large and complex as Food Justice.
Our approach to increasing access to these healthy foods is actually quite simple: education and food vouchers. We do this with a series of 8 weekly classes that focus on general nutrition and health topics and include a simple cooking lesson using whole foods. Participants are eligible based on income restrictions, and because many of them lack consistent access to a kitchen, all of the recipes we teach are designed to be cooked in a rice cooker for less than $5 per serving.
Our aim is to reduce the perception that cooking with organic whole foods is inherently expensive, time-consuming, and difficult. In addition, our educational presentations motivate this type of eating by diving into common health complaints and how a whole foods diet can help both reduce disease and prevent it.
In addition to the presentations and the free meals that each class cooks and enjoys together, the Round Up for Food Justice Program also provides each participant with a $20 voucher for produce at the Co-op at the end of each class. These vouchers create a good incentive to participate in each weekly class, and also enable participants to shop for ingredients they might otherwise overlook. For most of our participants so far, this program introduced them to the Co-op for the first time, even when they’ve been living nearby for years.
After our General Manager & Co-founder, Amber Sallaberry, ran a pilot program last summer for a classroom of eager participants, Round Up is now almost halfway through its first official series of classes. In this session, over 75% of participants do not have access to kitchen facilities, making the rice cooker an important element of our cooking lessons. Our participants currently range from ages 9 to 65, and are showing an encouraging level of interest and commitment to the program and what it has to offer.
Round Up for Food Justice currently accepts donations of any amount, but even some spare change from simply rounding up to the next dollar when you’re at the register goes a long way. If you’re one of the loyal supporters who choose to “round up” when checking out, we thank you for helping us offer this important program to our community.
A little change from some can mean a big change for others.
Our next series will run from March to April, and is held mainly on Wednesday evenings. If you have any questions or are interested in an application, please contact our Program Administrator, Kasey, at RUP@greatbasinfood.coop