Mandela Foods Cooperative

Established in 2009, Mandela Foods Cooperative is a worker-owned, full-service, 2,300 square foot grocery store located in West Oakland, California that helps fill the need for healthy food options in a community that has been historically underserved in grocery retail. It offers an example of using a cooperative to fill needs in a food desert. Mandela has a series of community service goals. It seeks to expand and promote local buying power and employment opportunity through its efforts to increase purchasing from small farms within a 170 mile radius of Oakland. It also aims to distribute produce and other fresh foods to local convenience stores wholesale, to increase access to healthy food beyond its own neighborhood. And it seeks to provide entrepreneurial training for low-income residents working within the store’s cooperative ownership structure. The cooperative also has a profit sharing arrangement with members of the neighboring People’s Federal Credit Union, a local credit union.  While most cooperative grocery stores are consumer cooperatives – owned by the people who shop there – Mandela Food is a worker cooperative, primarily because the low-income residents in its area lack the wherewithal to support a consumer cooperative.

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