Eat to Live Food Co-op Opens on South Side
The Southside Community Coalition and Syracuse University’s South Side Initiative Office celebrated the grand opening of the Eat to Live Food Cooperative, located at 2323 S. Salina St., on Tuesday, Oct. 15.
Several years in the making, the urban food cooperative offers fresh and affordable food in an area of Syracuse that until now has had few other nutritious options. Designed by architect Sekou Cooke, the 3,000-square-foot grocery store and café is located on South Salina Street and features healthy food and produce sourced from local farms and distributors. The resident member-owners will run the cooperative together with an elected board of directors. Membership is $100, and monthly payment plans are available.
Joseph Bryant, president of the Southside Community Coalition, says the cooperative’s local ownership model will foster a new sense of community pride. “The development of the Eat to Live Food Coop is the largest commercial development in the area in decades,” Bryant says. “The mere fact that South Side community residents brought an idea to fruition, which some thought could not happen, will bring much needed attention to the neighborhood.”
“I am grateful for the opportunity to support the community in their quest for healthy, quality, affordable foods,” says Shirley Rowser, president of the cooperative. “I’m even more grateful to Chancellor Cantor for her unwavering support and the resources the University dedicated to making this vision a reality.”
Funding for the cooperative was provided by grants from New York State’s Empire State Development through the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council (CNY REDC), the Central New York Community Foundation, the Gifford Foundation and the Allyn Foundation. The project also received support from Syracuse University, as SU students and faculty from the School of Architecture, the College of Law, the Whitman School of Management and the School of Information Studies (iSchool) were involved in the project as part of ongoing academic and engagement work.
The Eat to Live Food Cooperative exemplifies how partners from across the community can collaborate to make a real difference in the lives of city residents, says Sen. David Valesky, a long-time supporter of bringing New York’s agricultural bounty to urban areas. “This project is an excellent example of leveraging our state and region’s strong agricultural sector to provide fresh, healthy and home-grown food in urban areas,” says Valesky. “It also exemplifies how partners across the community, including residents, can collaborate to make a difference.”
Cooke believes construction of the cooperative offered an opportunity to create a different kind of building in the neighborhood. “Instead of a purely functional box, mimetic of the more recent warehouse structures dotting the area, the building aligns itself with the historically iconic structures along South Salina Street,” Cooke explains. “Given the modest budget, an inventive sleight of hand was necessary to elevate the shopper’s experience from a mere chore, to immerse them in a variety of textures and materials, each employing environmentally friendly techniques, and sculpting the ever-present natural light. “
Ground Works Capital Coalition (GC2), the Gifford Foundation and the Southside Community Coalition also worked to support this important effort to bring healthy food to Syracuse’s South Side.
More background on the project can be found at http://www.syr.edu/news/articles/2012/southside-food-cooperative-05-12.html.