‘We’re a community-owned grocery store’: New food co-op opening in Dorchester

BOSTON — There hasn’t been a food co-op in Boston since 2018, but that will change when the Dorchester Food Co-op opens in a few weeks.

It will be stocked with a wide array of fresh and organic foods for residents along Bowdoin Avenue to choose from.

John Santos, the General Manager and CEO of the new venture showed us a coffee station that will offer shoppers the chance to pick free trade beans.

“What makes us different is that we are a community-owned grocery store,” explained Santos. “Now a co-op can be owned by its employees, it can be owned by the community, or as we are, actually as a hybrid.”

Santos says this model of ownership guides how the store is run instead of a large corporation.

“Because it’s not about profit. We’re concerned about the environment. We’re concerned about hiring from the local community and purchasing goods from the local community. We’re concerned about fair wages.”

Some Boston neighborhoods are considered “Food Deserts”, meaning fresh produce and organic products are hard to come by.

“One of the big decisions we’ve made is to make sure there’s nothing in the store with high fructose corn syrup. We know the impact of that on diabetes and obesity,” Santos said.

Some items in the co-op will be expensive to meet higher standards, but Santos says there will also be ways to save money.

For example, he said staples like beans, rice, and grains will be sold at bulk rates even if a consumer is buying a much smaller amount of the item.

“This Dorchester Co-op is going to be a turning point for this community,” said Keilin Wright, who grew up just around the corner from the co-op.

Wright thinks it’s great that people will have a chance to try new, healthier products.

It costs $100 to buy into the co-op and there’s financial assistance for people who can’t pay that upfront.

This allows members to get a 5% discount on purchases and receive a share of the operation’s profits.

So far, 1,600 people joined, including Mayor Michelle Wu.

Santos is excited to open the doors to the public and thinks the co-op will give a boost to the whole neighborhood.

“I think that when you’re offering something awesome, that’s great and delicious, and a store does that, you attract people and then the store becomes part of the neighborhood.”

About three dozen people will have jobs at the store and close to 90% of them are from the community.

The store should be open for business in the next few weeks.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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