Mandela Marketplace

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Mandela Marketplace is a worker cooperative based in West Oakland, California. Mandela's goal is to bring healthy food to an extremely polluted area, which is often referred to as a "food desert." [1] According to a recent blog post about Mandela:

"Being short of breath, the hazy vision and all that—it would come and go, but I never thought of it as a big thing. I thought that was just normal health," says Ennis, a West Oakland resident who now works with Mandela Marketplace, a cooperative that buys healthy food grown on regional farms and then distributes it throughout the community at affordable prices—both at the market itself and from corner stores, where a team of area youth delivers fresh produce by bicycle.

"The work that we do connects two populations that have traditionally been left out of the mainstream food system: small-scale minority farmers and urban markets like West Oakland," says Quinton, the programs director for Mandela Marketplace. [2]

Though it operates as a worker-owned co-op, Mandela is actually incorporated as a 501c3 non-profit organization (originally, it was a project of the Environmental Justice Institute - Tides Center, but now it operates on its own). The co-op uses its unique position in West Oakland to develop a "community food system economy that strengthens community health, integrity and identity through economic opportunity and empowerment for inner-city Oakland residents and businesses, and local family farms." To achieve these aims, Mandela works with "local residents, family farmers, and community-based business" in order to advance its mission of creating wealth in its community, improving the health of West Oakland residents, and to build assets in low-income communities. [3]

Core Values

According to its website, Mandela Marketplace states that its core values are:

  • We believe in empowerment of community and self
  • We believe in cooperative work, wealth, and responsibility
  • Our ideas and actions are community driven
  • Sustainability drives the way we honor the earth, build partnerships, and lead programs
  • Professionalism guides our culture, practices, and activities [4]

See Also