Forging Food Justice through Cooperatives in New York City

By DePasquale, Dan; Sarang, Surbhi et al. | Fordham Urban Law Journal, May 2018 | Go to article overview

Forging Food Justice through Cooperatives in New York City


DePasquale, Dan, Sarang, Surbhi, Vena, Natalie Bump, Fordham Urban Law Journal


Introduction                                                     910   I. The Unsustainable, Inequitable State of the United States      Food System                                                 912        A. Inequity in Food Access                                912        B. Employment Conditions in the Food System               914        C. Environmental Impacts of the Food System               915  II. Food Justice                                                915 III. Cooperatives and Food Justice                               918        A. History of Cooperatives in the United States           919        B. How Consumer Food Cooperatives Further           Food Justice                                           920        C. How Worker Cooperatives Further Food Justice           924  IV. Challenges That Cooperatives Face                           926        A. Areas Where Food Sector Worker Cooperatives           Need Support                                           927           1. Raising Awareness of Cooperatives                   927           2. Increasing Access to Financing and Managing Risk.   928           3. Increasing Access to Technical Assistance           932           4. Increasing Access to Affordable Land                934           5. Supporting Democratic Self-Management               934        B. Areas Where Consumer Food Cooperatives           Need Support                                           935   V. Policies and Solutions                                      937        A. State Cooperative Corporations Laws                    937        B. International Examples                                 939           1. Italy                                               940           2. Quebec                                              941        C. Other Solutions and Policies                           942           1. Technical Assistance                                942           2. Public Funding and Incubation                       943           3. Federal Grants and Loans                            943           4. Private Investments                                 944           5. Youth Education                                     944           6. Land Trusts                                         945        D. New York City Initiatives                              946        E. Policies Designed to Promote Consumer Cooperatives     948           1. Wholesale Buying Clubs                              948           2. Subsidized Cooperative Membership                   949 Conclusion                                                       950 

INTRODUCTION

In the United States and New York City, low-income communities of color have unequal access to healthy and nutritious foods. Federal programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program ("SNAP") have proven inadequate in the face of such fundamental injustice, especially in light of President Trump's recent proposals to cut SNAP benefits. (1) As a result, low-income communities of color find themselves in the unenviable position of having to forge alternative avenues to achieve food equity--cooperatives may act as one such avenue.

Cooperatives have a long history in the United States and New York City, and people of color have used them to further their economic self-determination since at least the 1930s. (2) In addition to advancing economic justice and food access, cooperatives also provide other benefits for workers and communities, including attractive work cultures, (3) conscientious environmental stewardship, (4) and the capacity to act as local food hubs. (5) They can also serve as community-based alternatives to the global, industrial food complex. (6) This Article proposes that cooperatives may serve as a means of furthering food justice because they can simultaneously promote economic development in low-income communities of color and increase access to affordable and desirable foods in those neighborhoods. …

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