Five years ago, the only full-service grocery store in the Walnut Hills neighborhood in Cincinnati closed.
It was a blow to the neighborhood, home mostly to Black residents. Community activists, including Mona Jenkins, asked grocery chains to bring a new store to their area, but, she says, they weren’t interested.
“They felt like there wasn’t enough economic stability within our neighborhood,” said Jenkins, a cooperative food justice coordinator for Co-Op Cincy. “The next thing was, ‘OK, if no one wants to come in, what’s our next solution?’”
After a series of community meetings with Walnut Hills residents, Jenkins and her two co-founders decided they’d open their own grocery store, and opted to design it as a worker cooperative. The trio, all three Black women, launched a fundraiser in March for the brick-and-mortar grocery store they named Queen Mother’s Market Cooperative. Their efforts built upon an interim food delivery program Jenkins and her co-founders helped launch in the wake of the closure.
“We evolved out of the need [for] healthy food access being denied in our neighborhood,” Jenkins said. “It evolved out of the need [for] jobs in our neighborhoods that were paying a wage where we could still be able to live within that particular neighborhood.”