Oasis Food Co-op: A community-owned grocery store for the Far Eastside

The Far Eastside of Indianapolis has been a food desert for far too long. The recent closings of several Marsh grocery stores in the area is only going to exacerbate the issue. No longer willing to sit idly by or wait for some major chain grocer to move into the neighborhood, Mt. Carmel Church has taken on the challenge of starting a Food Co-op. This community-owned grocer will allow customers to have access to affordable, healthy produce (as well as other grocer items) regardless of their economic status. Tentatively called the “OasisFood Co-op” some of its main goals are:

 Reduce transportation barriers to grocery shopping

 Serve as a gathering place for the Far Eastside community where education, entertainment and community bonding will occur as well.

 Support and develop local entrepreneurs

Where are you at with the solution? Idea stage

Why might this be a valuable solution for Indy? Co-ops present the opportunity for groups of people to work together to find a solution to a problem. A Food Co-op for the Far Eastside would be valuable in a number of ways:

1. Create unity within a community – sometimes problems can create a disconnected environment but when people ban together to solve an issue, they begin to connect. A lot of good can come through collaboration.
2. Create a means of supporting local entrepreneurs – produce could be purchased from local farmers in addition, there will be other opportunities for local artisans/makers to sell their products
3. A gathering place – There isn’t much of a gathering place for the Far Eastside at the moment. This co-op would host events that would enable residents to talk to shop, mingle, and grow community connections.

What resources, advice or support would be helpful for you in moving forward?  In order for this to move through the ideation phase, I’ll need the following:
* Funding
* Assistance in executing a Community Survey (i.e. places to distribute, flyers to distribute during canvassing)
* A website to feature the survey
* Access to local events to distribute the survey in person
* Assistance on conducting a market feasibility study
* Professional review of the business plan
* Designer for the store
* Volunteers to sit on the steering committee
* Graphic design help
* Opportunity to discuss challenges/successes with others starting a co-op

Lead contact: Shaamora Harden

Email: esandh10@gmail.com