The opening of the Detroit People’s Food Co-op on May 1, 2024 marked a new chapter in the city’s history. The Co-op, a long-awaited $21 million project, will hold its grand opening on May 18. Led by Develop Detroit and the Detroit Black Community Food Sovereignty Network (DBCFSN), the initiative seeks to improve community well-being. It plans on doing this by increasing access to multitudes of nutritious food.

Detroit People’s Food Co-op is located in Detroit’s North End. The store intends to carry the food and health products of more than 40 local vendors. It also acquires fresh produce from Black-run urban farms, such as DTown Farms, the Oakland Avenue Urban Farm, and the Green Boots Project. 

What to Know About Detroit People’s Food Co-op

According to Lanay Gilbert Williams, the Board President of Detroit People’s Food Co-op, the store aims to balance healthy and organic options with clean and conventional products, ensuring a wide range of choices for the community. This model addresses a critical need in Detroit’s community. Around three in four Detroiters may not have regular access to healthy foods, according to United Way’s ALICE Report.

The opening resolves a decade-long absence of a full-scale Black-owned grocery store in Detroit, a city facing significant food access challenges. The store’s fresh, local grocery items, deli, and coffee bar prove what community solidarity and Black leadership can achieve. 

Membership in the Detroit People’s Food Co-op is open to anyone over 21, with over 2,700 members joining by its opening day. This membership model empowers individuals to vote in board elections, share future profits, and be elected to committees addressing various community needs. It’s a unique opportunity for Detroit residents to take ownership and actively shape their city’s future.

“This is not something you’re invited to. It’s literally yours,” Gilbert Williams told the Metro Times. “There is no rich person in the shadows. People can’t imagine such a heaven where all types of people have come together to do a thing and take ownership of a thing. It belongs to the entire community.”

Detroit has lost approximately a dozen grocery stores in the last decade, exacerbating its food insecurity issues. Detroit People’s Food Co-op aims to reverse this trend by providing access to quality food and being an example of community empowerment and economic development.