Joelle Robinson, Xavier Brown, Jennifer Bryant

Joelle Robinson, Xavier Brown, Jennifer Bryant
Location: Washington, District of Columbia Cohort Start Year: 2016 Project Topic: Food Systems and Nutrition Population Served: Urban Communities

We are working in Washington, D.C., on using Agriculture as a tool to build alternative economics models and healthier and more sustainable communities on a mental, physical and spiritual level.

STRATEGIC INITIATIVE: SouthEats Worker-Owned Food Delivery Cooperative
Joint Initiative (Brown, Bryant, Robinson)

SouthEats is a worker-owned cooperative food delivery business providing tasty, healthy, affordable, and culturally relevant food to communities systematically excluded from the healthy food economy. Our strategic initiative is the pilot launch of this business to test its feasibility and sustainability. By sourcing food from local producers, developing a worker-owned model, and incorporating community feedback, this project aligns with our values of promoting local food sovereignty, cooperative economics, and health and wellness. The initial geographic focus area for our delivery service will be neighborhoods in the District of Columbia Wards 7 and 8, with a specific focus on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients. Communities of the District’s Wards 7 and 8 are often described as having low incomes, high unemployment rates, and poor health outcomes. This, coupled with the fact that these regions of the city are over 90 percent black, creates racialized systematic disparities. Outside speculation that lower-income communities are homogenous and not health-conscious perpetuates existing health disparities by not investing resources toward healthy options. Our project challenges these assumptions. 

Providing healthy foods meets an unfulfilled need for East of the River residents of all income levels, as food delivery, grocery, and healthy affordable meal options are sparse. Our meals will be preassembled (uncooked, portioned, and preseasoned), using ingredients sourced hyper locally from the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. The menu options will be developed based on a combination of consumer/community surveys and feedback, nutritionist expertise, chef creativity, and local food supply information. Although similar services (e.g., HelloFresh, Blue Apron) exist, they are often cost prohibitive, often only focus on dinner recipes, and because they are purchased online, do not allow for acceptance of SNAP payments. A key component of our food social enterprise will be the acceptance of SNAP and Electronic Benefits Transfer payments and the provision of options that are more economically accessible than those of existing models.

Joelle Robinson [Pictured from Left to Right]
Principal Consultant, Rodia LLC
I hope to advance community generated solutions on food and social justice issues and connect them to local policy.

Click here to watch Joelle’s Legacy Project video.

Xavier Brown
Small Parks Specialist, Soilful City
I am Xavier Brown, student of the world. I use farming as my tool to transform my community. I live and love the work I do.

Click here to watch Xavier’s Legacy Project video.

Jennifer Bryant
Communications Coordinator, International Labor Communications Association
I believe cooperatives are a tool we can use to combat structural unemployment. More expansively, we are exploring how cooperatives, urban agriculture and local policy can be used to plant the seeds of a new, more equitable society.