Above: CCFI Team with a beautiful bunch of kohlbari greens from the Lawrence Community Garden for the food share distribution
At the Kheprw Institute, we believe the people who live and reside in grassroots underserved communities must be at the forefront of identifying and implementing solutions to address the challenges they face. Why? Because these are the people most impacted by the issue, they know the challenges, they know their community and their ownership of the solution will determine whether it has long-lasting impact or is short-lived. While grassroots communities may lack financial resources, they have a wealth of gifts, talents and social capital. For empowered communities, these important resources can and are being used to implement solutions that create the change they want to see. The Community Controlled Food Initiative (CCFI) is a story of community empowerment, of community working to #CreateChange.
In 2015, four Double 8 grocery stores closed on the same day in Indianapolis, IN. All were located in underserved communities. This left those communities without access to fresh affordable produce. In response to this crisis, youth with the Kheprw Institute located in the Mid-North neighborhood of Indianapolis decided to host forums to talk about the issue and consider approaches to addressing it. The conversations led to community people deciding to meet on a consistent basis to come up with a solution. Thus CCFI was born.
What is CCFI? It’s neighbors bringing fresh affordable food to their community! How? By pooling their money, community members purchase fresh produce and eggs wholesale direct from local farmers and urban gardeners. Some of the farmers CCFI buys from are Lawrence Community Gardens, Street Beets, Beyond Organic, Full Hand Farm, and Johnnie Raber Family Farms. A food share bag costs $20 or $15 for seniors or $7.50 for SNAP/EBT purchases and contains a variety fresh, chemical-free produce items. Everyone gets the same amount of fresh food in their share, along with recipes. In addition, each month on the second Saturday, members can pick up their order, and take part in the Good Food Feast – a potluck pitch-in and healthy cooking demonstration.
Now celebrating over one year of operation, CCFI through the resources available and accessible to underserved communities has grown from serving 35 individuals/families per month to 50, with over 100 individuals served to date and more than 30 volunteers. This community initiative is now working to double the number of shares purchased, increase the buying frequency from once a month to twice a month and eventually employ one to two people. For more information about CCFI visit food.kheprw.org.
The Kheprw Institute provides technology and media support for CCFI. On November 28, #GivingTuesday, the Kheprw Institute in partnership with Patronicity is launching an effort to raise funds to open an Agri-Culture Learning Lab in the northwest area of Indianapolis where individuals, families and groups can learn about urban garden/farming, healthy cooking and have access to garden plots and a tool lending collective. Visit kheprw.org on #GivingTuesday to learn more about #CreateChange.