Frequently asked questions: FAQs #2

How did this project come to fruition?

After the Save-A-Lot closed in Northside at the 4145 Apple Street location, many Northside residents were upset. Along with the desertion of the IGA from Clifton and the Kroger from College Hill, this was the first time in the history of the three neighborhoods without a full-service grocery store. Northside residents were aware of the Cincinnati Union Cooperative Initiative (CUCI) and the worker-owned cooperatives that they have created like Our Harvest and Sustainergy. Northside residents along with residents in College Hill were interested in whether CUCI could make a grocery store in their neighborhoods. CUCI decided to conduct a feasibility study of the neighborhoods along with intensive surveying, CUCI ended up with 25% of Northside households surveyed and 17% of College Hill households surveyed. The results of the survey and the feasibility study were positive for many reasons and as long as the selection and quality desired can be provided, both of the neighborhoods have the consumer base to support a grocery store.

Where is the project at now?

 We are in the middle of a fundraising drive, to try and raise equity to leverage debt-financing and gauge the interest of the community. Block Leaders around the neighborhood have done a great job of raising awareness and getting the message out. We have held great events including a party in the parking lot of the former Save-A-Lot, complete with music and vendors from a lot of businesses and organizations from the neighborhood. The hope is to finish the summer very strongly by getting close to 2,000 Community-Owners and subsidized owners from the area. The 2,000 Community-Owner number was decided upon because it would represent success in terms of loyal customers and a strong equity base so that debt would not be overly burdensome.

What is our motivation?

We are motivated by the desire to keep our community healthy, both in terms of actual physical health and economic health. In terms of physical health, adults living in neighborhoods with full service grocery stores have the lowest rates of obesity and diabetes while adults living in neighborhoods without full service grocery stores have considerably higher rates. In terms of economic health, grocery stores are generally considered an anchor business increasing the traffic and customer base of surrounding stores. Please take a look at the Health Report below completed by Sally Pope from Urban Health Solutions.

Northside Health Assessment

Why Worker-Ownership? Why are we pro-labor?

  • The food system is a critical part of the economy; accounting for 13% of the U.S.GDP and employing approximately 20 million workers (1/6 of the nation’s entire workforce).
  • Most retail grocery workers do not earn a livable sustainable wage, lack employer-provided health benefits and paid sick days, as well as using public assistance at higher rates than the rest of the U.S. workforce.
  • Income for workers in the food chain is 44% lower than the economy as a whole.
  • The median annual income for frontline workers in 2010 was $18,900.
  • People of color are the least likely to be able to obtain livable wage positions in the industry.
  • 86.5% of food system workers earn low, poverty, or subminimum wages.
  • 14% of food system workers use food stamps.
  • 8 of 10 food service workers cannot afford market rate housing.
  • 8 of the top 100 CEOs in the U.S. are in the Food System, in 2012 they made almost $200 million, the same amount as over 10,300 food service workers.

We want to create jobs that can sustain families without government assistance.

What is a union coop? How does it work?