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Collectively Owned Detroit People’s Food Co-op Is One Step Closer to Opening in the North End

The pandemic and Black Lives Matter uprisings this summer helped Detroit’s forthcoming community grocery store surpass its 2020 membership goal, but there’s still more work to do to make this $15 million project a reality

An illustration of two-story, modern building with a bright-green and orange exterior.
A rendering of the Detroit People’s Food Co-op, a project in development in the North End.
DPFC [Courtesy image]

The Detroit People’s Food Co-op (DPFC) recently welcomed its 1,000th member, meeting a hard-earned membership goal and putting the organization one step closer toward opening in the city’s historic North End.

In November 2019, Detroit People’s Food Co-op (DPFC) announced their membership campaign with a goal of enrolling 1,000 members to help create a collectively owned, full service grocery store within Detroit city limits. At the time of the announcement the co-op had 407 members. However, Malik Yakini, a founding member of the group building DPFC, tells Eater that the pandemic and Black Lives Matter uprisings across the country helped fuel a massive growth in membership, helping the group meet its enrollment numbers.

“In April, DPFC saw a surge in membership, likely connected to COVID and protests. And now again we’re seeing another surge,” Yakini says. “Many community members have seen first hand the fragility of the food industry, and are rethinking how they play a role in that.”

Members of Detroit People’s Food Co-op are involved in shaping the development of the project and play a vital role financially in creating an institution that serves the community, Yakini says. Memberships can be purchased with a one- time payment of $200 or through a 10-month payment plan of $20 installments.

“This is a very unique time and one of the things that we’re seeing is the disruption of commerce and the yearning of more equitable relationships with an economy focused on people before profit,” Yakini says. “So one of the most important things we can do is create institutions rooted in the idea of racial and economic equity, providing quality and good food to people and building a localized economy so we’re not so dependent upon the corporations that control the food system.”

A woman smiles behind bags of produce next to a sign advertising the Detroit People’s Food Coop.
Member-owner Hanifa Adjuman doing community outreach for the co-op.
DPFC [Courtesy photo]

When it eventually opens, the co-op will be open to the public and housed in a 34,000 square-foot community development complex known as the Detroit Food Commons on the southeast corner of 8324 Woodward Avenue at Euclid. The project, led by the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, serves to provide the community with increased access to healthy and sustainable food, food education, and a space focused on creating a fair and equitable food system in Detroit.

“Detroit Food Commons is the building that will house the Detroit People’s Food Co-op,” Yakini says. “The entire 17,000 square-feet of the first floor will be occupied by the co-op and the second floor will house four incubator kitchens, a large community meeting space, and the offices of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network.”

The opening of Detroit People’s Food Co-op is contingent on funding of the Detroit Food Commons, a $15 million project that’s currently still facing a funding gap. Yakini says the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network is working with multiple funding streams including the purchase of individual member shares, loans, and grants.

“We’re on the way to closing that gap and are in talks with many foundations,” he says. “We have a very soft timeline of summer 2021 for construction to begin on Detroit Food Commons. With additional grant applications, documents, and licensing there’s still the opportunity for something to get in the way of that timeline.”

Memberships for Detroit People’s Food Co-op are still open for residents of the state of Michigan who are over the age of 21.

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