Community Lobbies for a Food Co-op to Open in Manayunk

Residents of Manayunk and Roxborough want to bring local, healthy food to the 'hood.

As an acupuncturist at Roxborough Community Accupuncture, Dave Schiman sometimes recommends that his patients change their diets. He might suggest that they cut back on refined grains and processed meat and replace them with whole, natural foods. His clients, however, face a problem: They have no idea where they can get that kind of stuff.

Schiman is part of a group of people trying to get a Weavers Way Co-op, a food co-op with locations in East Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill, to open in the Manayunk/Roxborough area.

“We have no other store in the neighborhood like Weavers Way,” Schiman says, adding that there are no nearby options for purchasing high-quality, locally-sourced groceries.”I just know that if we had this in our neighborhood, more people would have access to it, and more people would eat healthy.” In addition to produce, Weavers Way offers a selection of cheeses, fair trade coffee, raw milk, grains, humanely-raised meats and healthy pet food.

Schiman is helping organize a public community-support meeting on April 18th to discuss the possibility of bringing Weavers Way to the Manayunk/Roxborough area. While Weavers Way has expressed interest in opening in the area, Schiman says, it’s a matter of funding. So with the help of others who are getting the word out, Schiman hopes to pack the house—he’s aiming for 150 to 200 bodies—to demonstrate support for the initiative and sufficient demand for a food co-op.

“We’re going to have to work together as a community and pull together for this to be manifested,” Schiman says. He hopes to get people on the Main Line involved, too, since they do not have a grocery option like Weavers Way, either.

And it’s not just about healthier food options with fewer chemicals that are better for the environment (although of course all of that is a huge plus). Schiman says food co-ops keep the profits local without a corporate entity taking most of the earnings and giving them to shareholders. People in the community would be in charge of making sure things go well, fostering a better business atmosphere than what you’d find at typical grocery stores.

Then there’s the potential for a larger economic impact. As Schiman points out, other businesses started popping up around the Weavers Way in East Mt. Airy after it opened. If this same sort of development happened in Manayunk/Roxborough, it could have a pretty big impact.

“Because there were people interested in the healthy food market, other businesses were attracted to open there,” Schiman explains.

He hopes that they will be able to show a lot of interest at the meeting so they can start putting together committees and get the project rolling. You can join the cause on April 18th by heading to the Mishkan Shalom at 4101 Freeland Avenue in Manayunk at 7 p.m. Learn more here.