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Idea Forge: Celebrating the Near East Side Co-Op and the Community

Tyler Durbin Tyler Durbin Idea Forge: Celebrating the Near East Side Co-Op and the Community
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In June, we read about the Near East Side Co-op’s plea for help to keep the doors open and to continue feeding neighborhood families. The community answered the rallying call.

The June “Rent Party” mobilized the Near East Side neighborhood to show up and support the Near East Side Co-Op. Neighborhood businesses like Upper Cup Coffee and Abnormal Allies made in-kind donations and enough funds were raised to keep the market financially stable while the Near East Side Co-Op streamlines operations and expands it’s footprint in the neighborhood.

On Friday, July 25th, the Near East Side Co-Op is celebrating the community’s efforts with the #GrowSomething Get Down block party:

Event Details: #GrowSomething Get Down
On July 25th, join the Near East Side Co-Op and The Columbus Food Hub at 1117 Oak St. for the #GrowSomething Get Down. Live performances by DJ Abyss, Speak Williams, and other Columbus artists, seasonal beverages, and grilled local eats.

Forge Columbus Innovation Fellow Katy Macke, manager of the Near East Side Co-Op and founder of the Columbus Food Hub (a shared commercial kitchen and commissary that shares space with the co-op) advocates that the Near East Side Co-Op is about more than groceries.

“What’s happening at 1117 Oak Street is more than just food,” says Macke. “On a larger scale, we’re posing the challenge to grow something in your community. We’re building the Near East Side Co-Op not just as a food hub or a grocery store… it’s a cultural center. A place where people can come together.”

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The Near East Side Co-Op’s vision is to improve food culture on the east side through on-site gardens, educational programming, and community partnerships. It’s a vision that community partners are excited about supporting too:

  • Godman Guild and Ohio Works First have mobilized volunteers to support daily operations.
  • Columbus food entrepreneur Joe Deloss and his popular Hot Chicken Takeover concept have been cooking and serving customers from the Columbus Food Hub since early spring.
  • The Near East Side Co-Op is partnering with Nationwide Children’s Hospital and their on-campus farmer’s market to provide services that allow the hospital to accept electronic benefit transfers (EBT).
  • Clintonville Community Market and the Near East Side Co-Op have teamed up to share meat and produce orders, allowing each market to expand their organic selections while cutting costs.

Forge Columbus has also partnered with the Near East Side Co-Op to provide business consulting, volunteer support, and management of events that strengthen the community. Reese Neader, Founder and Director of Forge Columbus sees the Near East Side Co-Op and the Columbus Food Hub as potential models for building a stronger local food system.

“What’s happening at 1117 Oak Street is what is starting to be built across the country,” says Neader. “It’s a model that our country’s leadership has identified as a way to improve our nation’s food system. The Near East Side Co-op and the Columbus Food Hub are being developed into a site where food can be grown by urban farmers, processed by local entrepreneurs, and sold to healthy consumers in a format that strengthens community. The USDA is funding millions of dollars for food hubs and we have one right here in our east side neighborhood that has the potential to be a game-changing model.”

The Near East Side Near East Side Co-Op is located at 1117 Oak Street and is open Monday through Saturday 11 am to 7 pm and on Sunday’s 1 pm to 5 pm. Don’t forget to visit on July 25th for the #GrowSomething Get Down block party!

For more information, visit www.neareastsidecoop.org and www.forgecolumbus.org.

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