Collective Envisions Community Involvement

Berkeley Student Food Collective Employs the Power of the Group and of the Individual

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"Would you like a flyer? They promote fresh, local, environmentally sustainable, and ethically produced food. Stop by the store at 2440 Bancroft!"

It was my first time experimenting with the sacred art of tabling. I did not want to be too forward, fearful of scaring potential members away, yet, I wanted to be enthusiastic enough so that I was noticed.

My fellow member and the outreach coordinator of the Berkeley Student Food Collective at the time, Ruby Yoon eased my nerves, "You're doing great. Just remember, when you are talking about the collective say, 'we' instead of 'they.' Take ownership."

The inclusive community mentality of the Berkeley Student Food Collective flows through the dynamics of general membership meetings, the volunteer based storefront to the very core of the collective's mission statement.

Though the collective's community has come a long way since its beginnings during the fall semester of 2008 when students responded to Panda Express negotiations and advocated for a sustainable alternative. Students wanted to see a grocery store committed to providing students with organic, healthy and sustainable food options at a reasonable price.

Determined to see through this alternative, students and volunteers have dedicated their time and hard work to attain the funds necessary to bring this vision to life, the largest of which comes from the University's Green Initiative Fund. Since then, the hard work of dedicated volunteers has brought the vision of this alternative to a reality.

On Monday, 15 Nov. 2010, the vision was truly manifested when the Berkeley Student Food Collective opened the storefront for its grand opening, welcoming students and community members alike. The store follows similar standards to the Real Food Challenge, which asserts the importance of local, community-based, fair, ecologically sound and humane food.

Now that the storefront exists, it is more important than ever to remind our community of the ideals upon which the idea for this a grocery store was founded. Why is it that so many motivated individuals dedicated themselves to the existence of this store?

To the members, the purpose is clear. It is because making decisions about what we eat makes a difference. Choosing when we are able to consume healthy, organic and fresh food options can benefit our overall livelihood and well-being. Making choices to eat locally grown food and to support sustainable practices impacts the state of our environment for ourselves and generations to come. For a vision deeply embedded in community ideals, it is important to recognize that the foundation of the food collective also relies on a mentality which emphasizes the power of the individual.

The Real Food Challenge advocates for the importance of working together to make a difference in our community and the environment. However, this vision is just as heavily reliant on the power of the individual. It is ultimately in the choices we make as individuals where we find the power of change.

So the next time you are strolling down Bancroft on the way to class, hopefully instead of glancing at the collective and seeing "their" store, you will remember to stop by what is truthfully "our" store and remember that your choice as an individual makes a difference.


Lindsay Dreizler is the publicity coordinator at the Berkeley Student Food Collective. Reply to [email protected]

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