Buying food can be empowering. But, when individuals lack privilege or choice, that same act can become a source of indignity.
Like when someone at a checkout register has to ask the cashier to take items off the ring up – as everyone in line watches – until the total gets to what he can afford.
Or when a mother has to make not-so-healthy food choices for her children because she can’t afford more nutritious choices, even though she wants to do the best she can for her kids.
Or when someone has to shop at a corner store or discount store – because it’s the only option in their neighborhood – and has to pick from a very limited selection of items with no opportunity to choose the things s/he really wants.
At People’s Community Market, we believe that everyone deserves the right to choose what they want to buy and eat. That’s why we’re creating a community food market in West Oakland that will offer real choices in a respectful, dignified manner in a clean, well-lit shopping environment where our staff will treat customers with respect, creating a welcoming experience for everyone.
People’s Community Market will be a store with a mission, designed to reach families who struggle to eat nutritiously. Understanding that nutrients are expensive and calories are cheap, we’ll focus on supporting our customer to buy nutritious fresh foods, delicious prepared foods and groceries at affordable prices.
One way we’ll do this is by providing discounts and benefits through our Get Fresh membership and rewards card. We’ll also offer incentives to increase buying power for fruits and vegetables among customers who participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). And we’ll put a relentless focus on sourcing fresh foods and creating healthy meals as affordably as possible.
But we also recognize that a health-focus can go too far, to the point where individuals feel judged, shamed or unwelcome for not being on a health kick. This can create another experience of indignity. So we’re being mindful to make sure our customers can choose from a wide variety of foods to make their own food choices and satisfy their own personal dietary preferences. And while our staff will be trained in diet and health, they’ll also be trained in being sensitive to and respectful of personal choices and dietary differences.
Individual dignity isn’t a common focus among grocery stores. We believe it’s as important as any other focus in creating this market.