City Mart Food Cooperative, known as Tzarchaniyat Ha’Ir in Hebrew, are a new chain of food cooperatives initiated by The Jewish Agency for Israel in partnership with the Israel Venture Network (IVN) and with the notable contribution of UJA-Federation of New York, the United Jewish Endowment Fund of Greater Washington and private donors. Located in disadvantaged areas throughout Israel, the Food Co-ops are an innovative solution to food insecurity as they bring fresh produce and pantry items at below-market prices to the Jewish State’s social and geographic periphery.
Since last year, the first four stores opened in Sderot, Arad, Yeruham and Beit Jann. The Jewish Agency intends to open four more by the end of 2016, and a total of 40 stores around the country by the end of 2020.
The co-ops are owned and run by and for the community which they serve and will ultimately become the largest social business in Israel. Profits will be redirected toward further price reductions and additional community services. This structure enables local residents to create social initiatives and sustainable change in their own communities while removing dependence on philanthropic funds.
How do the Food Co-ops help Israeli communities?
In addition to offering food and household items at affordable prices, each store serves as a hub for communal activities. Employees and volunteers organize cultural programming both inside and outside of the co-ops’ facilities, for the welfare of local residents.
The cooperatives are more than just a discount grocery store; they will serve as communal hubs for civic engagement. The cooperative stores provide communal infastructure by providing space for meetings, training workshops on personal finance and health, after-school activities, social support groups, and a many other community-building events.
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