We are sad, frustrated, and angry that Aldi, one of the three main sources of fresh produce and basic necessities at an accessible price point in North Minneapolis, suddenly announced its permanent closure this week.
That said, we are not surprised. The Northside has a history of businesses coming to our neighborhoods and then abruptly exiting, leaving our community shaken by the instability. Abrupt closures seen all too often in our community cause gaps in essentials goods or services that are not easily or swiftly replaced. Aldi’s exit is one of many, including the departure of a nearby Northside Walgreens, a source for medication and other essentials. We started this organization 11 years ago because we know that food accessibility is crucial to thriving and that the wisdom and solidarity in our communities are much more powerful and reliable than the businesses that come and go.
Co-founder and President Tasha Powell is a lifelong resident of North Minneapolis. She regularly met her 78-year-old auntie at the Penn Avenue Aldi. Her auntie lives across the street from the grocery store and does not drive. The closing will impact many people of all ages. Tasha remembers that when she was a kid, her mother and others in her neighborhood would walk to nearby markets and stores to pick up groceries and run errands. As a teenager, she realized that most of those businesses closed, leaving scarce options behind.
Realizing that her friends and neighbors were presented with very few options when purchasing food, that it was easier to get french fries than an apple, she felt inspired to join with others who had a true “Appetite For Change,”
Last year, we shared with you that we’re dreaming and planning for our forever home. A crucial part of that process includes conversations with our community, tapping into the wisdom of our elders, and listening to the real needs of our youth. As we imagine a sustainable solution for this organization that we have planted, watered, and cared for, we know it’s critical to remain a stable presence in North Minneapolis, our home, and the reason we do this work. When we witness over and over again the instability that the Aldi’s of the world can create because neighborhoods like ours just don’t fit into their spreadsheet, we feel disappointed, and we feel inspired. We know that long-term, sustainable solutions only come when businesses are truly locally-owned. We know that it is community that supports the community, no matter what. We want elected officials and anyone interested in equitable solutions to join us in our work to use food as a tool to create health, wealth, and social change in North Minneapolis. The time is now. Access is lacking; we should not be treated as an afterthought, nor our community as a “desert.” We see potential, wisdom, and abundance as integral parts of our diverse, multi-generational population.
If you are reading this from a place of comfort and privilege (if you live in a neighborhood where your closest grocery store closed but you could easily walk/ride/drive to the next nearest option without much hardship, for example), please consider joining in the conversation and also supporting our work to create systems of change. Access to food. Connections to one another, We know what to do, yet have systematically been denied resources and acknowledgment that we deserve them, just like everyone else.
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