PCM & EBALDC awarded $750k grant

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We’re excited to announce that, in partnership with the Easy Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC), PCM has been awarded a $750,000 grant from the federal Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI).

The HFFI grant program is a public-private partnership to improve access to healthy foods in low-income communities and communities of color. The program also strives to connect low-income residents to jobs, training, and capital to start and grow businesses that that are sorely needed in underserved communities.

EBALDC is the grant awardee and PCM is the project to be supported by the grant. EBALDC will provide the majority of the grant as a low-interest loan to PCM for working capital, starting inventory and other startup costs. This will provide critically important cash flow for PCM’s day-to-day operations and, as a result, will strengthen PCM’s ability to secure the balance of financing needed to construct its store.

The HFFI grant will help create the first full-service grocery store in the West Oakland neighborhoods targeted by PCM’s project since the 1970’s. And it will help provide access to fresh foods, groceries and prepared foods, at affordable prices, within walking distance to four low-income census tracts and to 9,000 nearby residents. In addition, the grant will support the creation of 30 new full-time permanent jobs in the community, with at least 75% of the new full-time positions to be filled by individuals with low incomes.

While winning this grant took a well-developed application and a solid partnership with EBALDC, we would not have won this award without the $1.5M in investment that has been made by PCM’s 460+ Founding Shareholders. Our ability to show broad public support and investment was critical validation of the strong foundation of community relationships that PCM is being built on.

Our ultimate goal is raise a total of $2M from selling company stock to people in the public who believe in the mission of this social enterprise. Help us reach this goal by becoming a Founding Shareholder. Join the PCM community and help us nurture and serve the West Oakland community for decades to come.

Grocery Store as Cultural Center

Community markets can play an important role in preserving cultural food traditions. They can reintroduce and reconnect people to their familial and cultural food heritages. And they can help reinvigorate a passion for and practice of the diverse food ways of a community.

West Oakland has a rich array of food cultures and traditions that reach back generations. People hailing from the Southern States, Latin America and Asia brought many of these cultures and traditions to West Oakland. However, the presence of some of these food traditions has diminished as residents become immersed in a corporatized, industrialized and culturally homogenous food system.

Yet, as we interact with and hear from local residents, it’s clear that there is strong desire among many to be more connected to and knowledgeable of the food cultures and traditions of their diverse heritages. This desire presents an opportunity for People’s Community Market (PCM) to stimulate and provoke conversation and awareness about West Oakland’s food cultures.

From offering cultural food products to hosting workshops and speakers on food cultures to using performance art and creative expression to explore the rich landscape of issues pertaining to food culture in the community, PCM will support residents’ desires for a meaningful relationship to food that connects them to their cultural traditions, histories and values. And all of this will be done right in our grocery store so that customers can conveniently attend a class, event or activity before or after their shopping trip.

Supermarkets often feel like sterile warehouses void of culture, creativity and heart. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Food stores can be hubs of cultural activity that facilitate meaningful interactions between eaters, their food and those who produce that food. And they can become centers of re-imagining how communities are nourished and connected to the world around them.

A food culture revolution is happening. Even in under-served communities like West Oakland, many residents want more than just access to food. PCM will support this food revolution by providing as much space for and attention to food culture and tradition as to the food products that are on our shelves.