Mom & Pop Getting the Good Food

Co-op Trade Foodshed Initiative – Part 3

In this third installment on the Co-op Distribution Center, we’ll look at how the CDC helps small, rural co-ops and mom and pop grocery stores keep healthy and clean food on their shelves, and they, in turn, help our rural neighbors have access to good food. Unlike conventional distributors, the CDC’s size and scale accommodate service to more remote locations and to smaller stores through out New Mexico.

For distributors of all sorts of goods, including groceries, unless they can fill a truck, and unless a store is on a regular route off a major transportation corridor, they won’t make a delivery. Small grocers, particularly in rural areas, struggle to make orders large enough to meet minimum requirements for delivery through providers like Sysco or UNFI. Often, it is only once a month, and sometimes less frequently, that this sort of grocery store will make an order through one of these companies. Perishable items usually only last for a short period at the beginning of the month, if they get ordered at all. The items ordered are highly processed, very shelf-stable goods, frequently with low nutritional value, meaning these are the foods rural New Mexicans, in recent years, could choose from if they shopped at their local grocery store.

The CDC provides access to natural foods and perishable items for small grocers on a more regular basis than larger distributors. Currently, the CDC can make weekly deliveries to stores like the Silver City Co-op, Dixon Co-op, Mountain View Co-op, Los Alamos Co-op, Gallup Co-op, Tesuque Village Market, Sol Foods in Arroyo Seco, The Bodega in Taos, Inn and Mercantile in Ojo Caliente, and Kaune’s Neighborhood Market in Santa Fe, if they need to make an order. In addition, the CDC can deliver locally sourced items, like Estancia beans or Freeana Yoghurt, not available through other distributors.

For New Mexicans living in rural communities, this translates into healthier and more locally sourced food in stores closer to home. Rather than having to drive to Santa Fe or Albuquerque to shop for groceries and to find items like fresh veggies, real cheese, or brown rice, they can shop at the small grocer down the road. Rather than having to load up at Costco or Sam’s Club once a month when they journey to town, they can shop more frequently for fresher items. By providing smaller grocers access to healthy food, the CDC helps to water and green the immense food deserts created by the limitations of more conventional food distribution systems.