New food co-op in Syracuse brings healthy options to southside neighborhood

Oct 16, 2013

A new food co-op on Syracuse's southside has opened its doors. Neighbors are welcoming the new Eat to Live Food Cooperative on South Salina Street, an area that doesn't have many options when it comes to buying healthy food.  

Joseph Bryant, president of the Southside Community Coalition said the co-op ultimately eliminates a food desert.

"Fifty-two percent of the people in this census tract use public transportation or walk. So not having the ability to drive to a grocery store is one thing, so now we can provide midday shopping trips in the neighborhood," Bryant said.

Fresh fruits and vegetables dominate the 3,000-square-foot grocery store and cafe. As a cooperative, members pay a $100 lifetime membership fee.Then, these part-owners decide what should be stocked in the store according to the president of the co-op, Shirley Rowser.

"Through it you get benefits of all the different workshops and training we'll offer, and additionally you'll get a patronage refund. Which means that because we work on cost, and we pay expenses, anything extra doesn't go back to the business, it goes to the members," Rowser said.

Bryant notes that the cooperative, which will be run by a board made up of community members, will also offer things like cooking classes to help people learn how to make healthy foods.

Louise Poindexter, one of the co-op members, said the cooking classes are key in a community with high rates of diabetes and high blood pressure.

"You know I might see a whole bunch of things I want to try, but if I don't know how to cook 'em, then I've defeated my purpose right there," Poindexter said.

Bryant said this isn't the last development in an area that hasn't seen new construction in four decades.

"We've partnered with the city of Syracuse to create a pocket park behind Beauchamp Branch Library. That'll start out in the spring with construction," Bryant said.