Common Goods Co-op
Location: Our Lady of the Road 744 S Main St, South Bend, IN 46601
History/Mission: About 7 years ago, the people of the Monroe Park neighborhood and the South Bend Catholic Worker got together to solve a very big problem plaguing their community. The Monroe Park area is considered a “food desert,” an urban area where it’s hard for residents to find high quality, affordable food. With the help of a class of college students, the community started the Monroe Park Grocery Cooperative, a nonprofit to provide the community with fresh, local, healthy food. After five years of serving the community, the organization was in danger of shutting down. Stephanie and Shawn Storer decided to take on the project themselves, renaming the organization “Common Goods” to emphasize their belief that fresh, healthy, affordable food was a good thing for the whole community. Their mission includes providing their community with healthy food at affordable prices and educating their community about nutrition and healthy eating. Given the Catholic Worker principle of “creating the new in the shell of the old,” they moved the grocery to Our Lady of the Road, where the Catholic Worker operates a Saturday breakfast and laundromat for the homeless. That was two years ago, and the co-op has been thriving since. The market is open during “Market & Community Education Nights” which happen every two weeks. Common Goods serves a range of clientele but tries to reach the most vulnerable of the community who normally wouldn’t be able to afford healthy food. Yearly membership fees are determined on a sliding scale based on income to ensure the widest income demographic has access to the grocery. Everything in the store is organic (or chemical free, if the farmer doesn’t have the official certification) and sold without packaging. This “pre-cycling” model requires patrons to bring their own containers, reducing the amount of waste the co-op produces and reducing the costs of packaging for farmers. The only two packages in sight when I visited were egg cartons, which can be returned to the co-op the following week for farmers to reuse, and honey jars, which can also be returned and refilled. In the summer months, when more fresh produce is available, the organization will take on a farmer’s market layout.
Get Involved: Visit the market every other Wednesday from 6-7:30pm. Check out their Facebook page to see when the next market will be held!