Providing community garden space for place-based learning, public health, nutrition education, and community empowerment.
Founded in 1972 by a group of UC Santa Barbara students who wanted to increase accessibility to healthy foods and provide a retail outlet for the local foodshed, the Isla Vista Food Cooperative is one of the last remaining grocery cooperativesCooperative: A farm, business, or other organization which is owned and jointly run by its members who share in the profits or benefits. in California. Shoppers can find in-season locally grown produce, meat, eggs, and dozens of artisan food products including honey, chocolate, tortilla chips, olives, nuts, bread, and more. The Co-op’s strategic priorities share similar themes with SBCFAN’s Food Action Plan goals:
The Isla Vista Food Co-op has long been an advocate for food accessFood Access: A person’s ability to access food while considering many barriers such as geography, transportation, availability of healthy foods, and affordability. and food justiceFood Justice: A basic right of people, a movement striving for the right to grow, sell, and eat healthy food. – especially for the campus community they are so closely aligned with. The Co-op is a founding member of the UC Santa Barbara Food Nutrition & Basic Skills program that runs as a part of the campus Basic Needs initiative – and partners with the Associated Students Food Bank, helping them source more low-cost organic and vegan/alternative diet options for their distributions to students. Serving as a CalFresh ProgramCalFresh Program: Known federally as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP, provides monthly food benefits to individuals and families with low-income and provides economic benefits to communities. sign-up location, the Co-op hosts student advocates who assist community members in accessing federal benefits to buy healthy food.
The COVID-19 pandemic was “a sort of pivot point for us as an organization,” describes Marketing Manager Allison Baymiller. “Throughout the pandemic, we’ve been providing crisis grocery ordering support to emergency programs established through the Basic Needs initiative for COVID-impacted students.” Thanks to local grassroots group Manos de Mapaches, grocery bags are prepared and distributed each week.
Shop local at the Isla Vista Food Co-op – and learn more about how becoming a member of the cooperative supports local food resilience.