IVYP and Isla Vista Food Co-op partner for community impact
For IVYP and the Isla Vista Food Co-op, partnership means more than a contract. It’s walking the talk and working thoughtfully together to provide vital services to the community. Last May IVYP and the Isla Vista Food Co-op entered into a formal contract to provide food for our food distribution and emergency food pantry as well as offer nutrition classes to the community. While this partnership has just celebrated its first anniversary on paper, these two organizations have been partners for decades.
IVYP and the Co-op grew together out of the Isla Vista riots in the 1970’s in response to the communities desire for basic needs and to see themselves in the new neighborhood they had fought for. For IVYP’s part our role was to provide quality and affordable childcare to the resident families of Isla Vista. The Co-op was started to provide healthy and accessible groceries for the community, by the community.
History of partnership
Melissa Cohen, General Manager of the Isla Vista Food Co-op has played a vital role in this partnership, “The Co-op was founded to be a resource for healthy food access, but also for economic democracy for people that wanted to support a different way to access that healthy food: a cooperatively-owned structure that is mutually beneficial for the consumer and producer.”
Throughout the years the partnership between IVYP and the Co-op has grown, and the organizations have continuously looked to each other as allies serving the community. For example, not only does the Co-op provide foods for our “Harvest of the Month recipe” at our monthly food distribution, but staff from the Co-op consistently lend their hands to volunteer with the organization.
Impact through collaboration
Lori Goodman, Executive Director of IVYP had this to say, “Melissa Cohen is a remarkable, authentic leader in the Isla Vista Community. I am so fortunate to work with her and to call her a friend and colleague. IVYP deeply values our collaboration with the Isla Vista Food CoOp. Together, we work to strengthen all of Isla Vista and beyond.”
With the newly signed MOU the intention is to not only formalize the partnership but also open up IVYP’s families to see themselves as a part of the Co-op as well. Part of the partnership has been to offer grocery vouchers to families in need to shop at the Co-op. The Co-op has also made an effort to stock more culturally representative foods as well as more bulk buy goods that can be purchased using Cal Fresh.
Equity and access
Melissa Cohen understands that people may not know how accessible the Co-op is. “Many people are very surprised to learn that we not only accept Cal Fresh, but we are the only grocery store in Santa Barbara County that stated this value in our mission statement way back in the 1970’s.”
Beyond grocery access and voucher support, the Co-op and IVYP have worked through the years to continue developing the education piece of the partnership, which has ranged from Healthy Parenting Class co-teaching, to offering bilingual nutrition support at the Healthy School Panty. As Isla Vista grows we understand the importance of our partnerships growing with us.
Into the future
“While IVYP isn’t a Co-op it functions very cooperatively. You have the families working within the framework of the organization so I look at them as real sister organizations”, says Melissa.
The Isla Vista Food Co-op is a member of the IVYP family and we are so grateful for the joy, access, and opportunity they provide for our community, and we look forward to seeing how our dynamic partnership continues to grow and flourish!
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Executive Director, Isla Vista Youth Projects