Our History and Mission

The Near East Side Cooperative Market is a member-owned food cooperative in Columbus Ohio.  We offer nutritious foods to the community in the Olde Towne East Community.  We believe that income should not be a barrier to food that is accessible, affordable, and healthy.

The Near East Side of Columbus has long been a thriving and self-sustaining community; but the early 1960s brought about considerable change for this historically African-American neighborhood. The construction of Interstate 71 separated the area from downtown Columbus and many residents moved to the suburbs after discriminatory housing practices were challenged with desegregation. As a result, many businesses in the Near East Side closed and unemployment rates increased.

Although a considerable number of Near East Side residents are living under the poverty line, there is no grocery store within a 3.5 square mile area (the entire Near East Side encompasses only 4.7 miles). This qualifies the neighborhood as a food desert—a low-income area where at least one-third of the populations lives more than a mile from a supermarket or large grocery store.

In response to the need for healthy food, members of the Near East Side community established a buying club. After a period of successful operation, the buying club formed a relationship with Local Matters, a non-profit that works with issues of food sovereignty and community food security. With the support of the buying club, Local Matters wrote and secured a grant from the Community Health Funders Collaborative, which includes The Columbus Foundation, Columbus Medical Association Foundation, Osteopathic Heritage Foundation and United Way of Central Ohio to open a for-profit, community owned food cooperative market on the Near East Side.