Kensington: Neighbor Helps Improve Access to Healthy Food Through Co-Op

The Kensington Community Food Co-Op started in 2008 when the community came together to talk about issues in the neighborhood. Residents weren’t satisfied with the healthy food options that were available. Conversations evolved from those initial concerns. Holly Logan is the president of the Kensington Community Food Co-Op. Its mission is to open a member-owned cooperative grocery store on Coral Street that provides healthy, quality food, products and services to its members and the community.

How did you get started with the Kensington Community Food Co-Op?

I bought a house in the neighborhood in 2009 with my husband. We were very excited to move to the area. We are Greensgrow Farm members, which is a great community anchor. After moving, I began looking for more opportunities to get involved. I took part in New Kensington Community Development Corp. programs, which led me to meet some neighbors that were involved with the food co-op movement. I found that environmental issues were really going hand-in-hand with food access issues.

How has the organization grown in the past few years?

We announced our location in 2014, which brought in an influx of new members because they wanted to see something more tangible happen. We’re slowly chipping away to our goal of having a thousand households involved with the co-op. Having more members just means that there is a good amount of community support and ideally a good base of shoppers for when the store opens. We are in the process of continually recruiting members. We also have different outreach efforts to expand our relationships with different community entities.

How did that develop into your current position as president?

From being minimally involved with the membership committee, I then evolved into a board member. I was asked if I wanted to be more deeply involved. I was voted on and elected by the rest of the board members in 2014 and currently still hold that position as president. My three-year term goes until next year, so I’m very excited about that. I’m also involved with a few other groups within the co-op, which right now is handling the hiring of our future store manager.

How have your day-to-day responsibilities changed after becoming president?

Since starting in 2010, I have realized how everything is easier with more members. When I started we were in the 300-member range, but we wanted grow. So at that point, it was all about tabling events to grow our membership and communicate to the community how our co-op operates. Now as president, I have more financial responsibilities from handling membership investments and organizing our funding partners. There is a lot of communication needed between our landlords and our financial partners. It really is about keeping our momentum going forward.

What kind of personal goals do you have for yourself as a president?

We want to show that we can create a report card where we can show our members how we operate, how we hold ourselves accountable and what we do with every contribution. It’s really a way to show the members how we are measuring up to our own big-picture goals. We’re really excited to work on getting that started and having it be an easily digestible source of information for our members.

What has been your best experience since becoming involved with the Kensington Community Food Co-Op?

It’s making all the connections with so many different people in the community. Knowing that we have such a mixed range of folks that are coming to the community is a really great experience. It’s a developing area, and I really like having the practical conversations with people who have been living in the community for such a long time – talking with them about this great thing that I think we’re doing and getting feedback on what they think of it. I really like having conversations to create more awareness about hunger in our community and how co-ops are just one piece of that puzzle.

I’m very excited about our new location and knowing that it’s not only going to be a place for people to buy their food, but it’s going to hopefully create up to 35 new jobs for the community. We’re excited to create what’s called a third space. This term is frequently used by co-ops to explain how your first place is your home, your second place is your job, and your third place can be somewhere you can come together with community members. We’re very excited to create this new environment.

– Text by Coleen O’Hara and James Kirn. Image provided by Jen Brown