Little Africa Food Cooperative was established in the summer of 2016 surrounding the murder of an unarmed black man, Philando Castile, a father assassinated by the Minnesota Police Department. The community in despair from the continual systemic injustices targeted toward our families created the outcry for us to do something. Our founder Telia Badu summoned the community to action. That something was to open and build an independent grocery store for the community. The community responded to the call with our first fundraiser that took place outside of Faith Community Credit Union raising $1500 in one day and Little Africa Food Coop was born.
Our mission is to provide an inexpensive healthy food source for impoverished, urban communities. We strive to create an economic, social, and cultural independence because "you are what you eat". We will be owned and managed by the members of the coop that is structured as a democratic community. We will work with local, national and international farmers to obtain healthy and quality foods.
The name Little Africa was inspired by Black Wall Street of Tulsa, Oklahoma. A place that is for us by us to build and practice community cooperation, independence and long-term survival. Little Africa is about bringing back overall wellness love synergy we once had as a people and create our new and improved Black Wall Street by creating powerful networks and collaborations.
Over the past 4 years, Little Africa has been working in Cleveland and surrounding communities raising awareness around our solution to the food redlining and food apartheid issues where grocery stores have been closing leaving the community with more and more health inequities. Our majority African American communities are impoverished, underserved, lacking financial opportunities and now are the most vulnerable in this COVID19 crisis and are increasingly at risk for all forms of disparities.
Little Africa COVID Crisis Response
As the COVID crisis hit, our VP Mikki Smith called an Emergency Meeting for everyone to develop a community solution to the pandemic. Simultaneously the Feed the Soul project was working with Central Kinsman team to assist with the process. The two ideas came together and created a community collaboration. The collaboration has resulted in us feeding 350 families since late March. This collaboration includes Environmental Health Watch, FreeThinkers87, Project Save, Garden Valley Neighborhood House, and Little Africa Food Cooperative. Our collaborative work has received recognition and aided in the grant award of Little Africa being able to assist more communities outside of the Central Kinsman Feed the Soul Community.
Our Next Move
We are currently still looking for a home for our first Grocery Store location. We have been working with various communities to determine where our cooperative will have the greatest chance of being successful as a business and impactful as a community focus.
Little Africa Food Cooperative is working in the following communities: East Cleveland, Clark-Fulton, Hough, Central- Kinsman, Union-Miles, Harvard and other surrounding areas.
We service families with school age children with food, health and wellness related educational services including cooking classes, gardening and growing food classes, meditation and writing for mental health therapy, reversing diabetes, Zumba, food cooperative ownership and related classes. We also provide meal delivery to families with elders, disabled, physically and mentally challenged, and single parents with school age children that do not own transportation or cannot afford or are not physically able to get to the grocery store, food banks or community food giveaways. Our members are primarily low-income, African American and marginalized families.
We have provided free health and wellness education with our workshops exposing nearly 500 participants to holistic health-focused information both onsite and virtually. Our current social media following is close to 2000 followers. Our first video has received 13,000 views raising our organizational profile across geographies and demographics. We also hosted our first successful Annual Taste of Art Community Festival in the City of East Cleveland in July of 2019. We honored 3 community legends with Lifetime Achievement Community Service Awards and presented our “Top Chef” competition. We also have a growing program where we grow our own food at Village Family Farms in the Hough Community teaching and learning the basics of growing.
The planned store will include a variety of departments such as dry grocery, meat, produce, frozen food, dairy, a bakery, a deli, a grab & go section, and a café-style seating area. The store will actively seek out relationships with local farmers and producers in order to highlight a broad selection of natural, organic and locally-produced food and products. In addition, the store will have a strong supplements/health and beauty aids section featuring a customer service counter, a small reference library, and a selection of non-food household supplies, pet care, and general merchandise. The store may include a community room that will be available to the general public and will serve as a space for the co-op to offer classes in cooking and nutrition to its member-owners and customers.
Community Membership: $150.00 Lifetime
• Covers up to 4 household family members per share or 4 household members can own separate shares
• Special Owner Discounts
• First Access to Little Africa Special events, cooking classes, etc.
• Privilege to Run/Vote for the Board of Directors
• Invitation to our Annual Share Owner Cookout
• Share in dividends
Membership in the co-op is one (1) share at One Hundred and Fifty Dollars ($150.00). This membership can be split into payments of Ten Dollars ($10) a month for up to fifteen (15) months .
This membership is good for life and can be willed and transferred upon the expiration of "PRIMARY SHAREHOLDER"
Each shareholder is allowed equal voting rights. One vote per shareholder per household.
Passion Driven: “I love to feed people and I realize that food is also being used as a form of genocide. I however am inspired to heal people through food.” Ms. Telia Badu, Founder/CEO
Community Driven: “Every community shall become a village once we all take ownership in feeding and loving on the people.” Ms. Mikki Smith, Vice President
Independence Driven: “Us taking ownership in feeding ourselves will lead us to financial unity.” Ms. Angela Sayles, Treasurer
Internationally Driven: “After visiting close to 70 countries around the world. I have come to understand that some of the happiest and healthiest people are those who grow and produce their own food.”
Mr. Marcus Greenwood, International Community Liaison
East Cleveland Growth Association
Joe Little III, Brother to Brother International
Andreas Cigar and Wine Bar
Coit Farmers Market
Oppressed Peoples Nation
Stephanie Tubbs Jones Center
Environmental Health Watch
Feed the Soul Project
Friendly Inn Center
Garden Valley Neighborhood House
Councilman Basheer Jones
Village Family Farms
Africa House International
League Park Marketplace
Hough Green Growers Consortium
Cleveland Hough Multipurpose Center
Union Miles Development Corporation
Harvard Square Center
New Freedom Ministries Outreach
Mount Olive Baptist Church