Efforts to End Food Desert in Northeast Greensboro Gain Momentum
By Bonnie Newman Davis
Dozens of Greensboro residents, civic leaders and members of Greensboro City Council gathered at Laughlin Memorial Church last night to discuss the Renaissance Community Co-Op grocery store’s opening later this year.
Bouyed by a successful online fundraising operation that netted the organization $16,0001, which included international donations, the promise of $250,000 from Greensboro City Council and recent publicity from broadcast journalist Bill Moyers, the meeting’s atmosphere was congenial and festive.
Goldie Wells, president of Citizens for Economic and Environmental Justice (CEEJ) and founder of Concerned Citizens of Northeast Greensboro, assured the audience that the Co-op is forging ahead and that she is ready to purchase fresh cantaloupe once it opens. John Jones, another RCC member who moderated last night’s meeting, added that although the store will be organic, he may have to see that it sells a few “neckbones.”
Surveying the crowd, Wells said the effort to renovate the former Winn Dixie grocery store on the corners of Phillips and Woodbriar Avenues “has been a long journey. It takes the citizens to do it. It lets them know you are concerned about this.”
Wells added that an email from a city official states that she has a “handshake agreement” that the requested $250,000 will be on city council’s calendar for the first of April.
Literature distributed throughout the evening provided detailed information about the Co-op and urged everyone to use the hashtag #fullyfundrcc on social media.
“Working with the City of Greensboro, Guilford County, Self-Help Ventures Fund, Fund for Democratic
Communities, Uplift Solutions, Lakeshore Food Advisors and other partners, RCC is on track to open a 10,000 square foot full-service grocery store in the Shops at Renaissance
Plaza on Phillips Avenue in the third quarter of 2015,” according to RCC’s executive summary business plan. “The RCC will alleviate a 17-year-old food desert and bring good jobs, healthy living options and community wealth to a neighborhood that struggles with unemployment, obesity and poverty.”
Talking points were distributed to RCC member-owners and supporters, which noted that the Co-op is “NOT” a charity case, but a business that will employ 31 people and revive and transform a neighborhood that serves a public housing complex and numerous single-family homes in nearby subdivisions such as Woodmere Park and King’s Forest. In a little more than a year, RCC has raised $1.2 million in private investments to open the community owned store. It estimates that approximately $600,000 is still needed for start-up costs.
“We’re in the home stretch, and we now need our local elected officials to close the funding gap,” noted various RCC members throughout the evening. Members urged local elected officials to close the funding gap with economic development grants and loans that RCC pledges to repay. The audience also was urged to attend the April 7 city council meeting when the Co-op will be discussed.