Ending Food Apartheid: Flint Residents Work to Re-Own the Local Economy

By Bob Brown, Associate Director, CCED Flint

On August 30, 2021 after seven years of work to secure funding, the North Flint Investment Corporation, and their partners, including MSU CCED Flint, broke ground on a cooperative grocery store in North Flint. The North Flint Food Market, however, is more than a grocery store. It is a major step in the movement to end food apartheid in Flint while rebuilding and re-owning our local economy.   

The USDA defines a food desert as “neighborhoods that lack healthy food sources”. According to the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies (https://nutritionstudies.org/food-apartheid-what-does-food-access-mean-in-america/), “The term food apartheid more accurately describes what it means not to have food access in the US. Activist Dara Cooper describes food apartheids as, ‘[the] systematic destruction of black self-determination to control one’s food, hyper-saturation of destructive foods and predatory marketing, and blatantly discriminatory corporate controlled food system that results in [communities of color] suffering from some of the highest rates of heart disease and diabetes of all time.’” 

Flint has many convenience stores and several low-end grocery stores, but the shelves are stocked with foods of lower nutritional quality—foods high in sugar and fat. Fresh foods, fruits, and vegetables are limited and overpriced, which is particularly concerning because they are needed to mitigate the effects of lead poisoning caused by our man-made water crisis. The North Flint Food Market will be a full-service grocery store with competitively priced, high quality fresh foods, fruits, and vegetables. 

The North Flint Food Market is also an important vehicle towards owning our local economy because of the Local Multiplier Effect (LME).  LME refers to how many times dollars are recirculated within a local economy before leaving and is a very valuable, hidden feature of our economies. Most of the current food system in Flint is owned by people who do not live here and profits from these businesses leave the community almost immediately as noted in the below chart from the American Independent Business Alliance. 




CCED Flint continues to participate and bring value to this most important ongoing economic and community development movement. Bob Brown, MSU CCED Associate Director, is the Secretary for the North Flint Food Market Board of Directors.