Won't You Be My Neighbor?

The original version of this post can be found here! 

Welcome to Westwood. This is one of the most culturally vibrant neighborhoods in the Denver Metro Area, with over 81% of its residents identifying as Latinos. Some of the best authentic Mexican food is within a few blocks from the Westwood Food Co-op (WFC)… (here at Re:Vision, we have been really into the huaraches over at Tarrasco’s), and Denver’s favorite Thai and pho spots have been serving up noodles around the corner for years. 

The WFC sits right on Morrison Road, a busy street dotted with neon greens, pastel pinks, and deep blues. From intricate murals on most buildings to brightly painted trash cans on sidewalks, this neighborhood is rich with culture and united in their strong identity of art, history, and diversity. 

So how does a cooperative grocery store fit into all of this? 

Despite the number of tasty restaurants in Westwood, it is actually a food desert—meaning that most of the population has limited access to affordable, healthy food. So yes, you may be able to sit down to a good plate of gorditas, but you will have an awfully difficult time finding a fresh head of lettuce at the grocery store. 

It’s not financially feasible to eat out every meal and the reality is that there are very few grocery stores in the area, with the ones close by closing just this past weekend! The nearest Safeway closed just a few days ago. Because of this lack of access, many residents here suffer from a variety of health risks, with 67% of the community at risk of obesity and diet-related illnesses. As a result the average lifespan of a Westwood resident is 12 years shorter than surrounding Denver neighborhoods. 

The Westwood Food Co-op exists to transform a food desert into a local food oasis. How? Not by bringing in a big name supermarket or by forcing residents to travel long distances to other markets (taking money out of their own local economy), but by working with the neighborhood to cooperatively build its own grocery store from the ground up. This keeps the money, the power, and the identity in the hands of the people—an important model for sustainable communities. 

So sign up to become a member of the Westwood co-op and welcome! Welcome to a community with deep roots and united efforts to grow their own solutions.