Creating a Blueprint to Scale the Bargain Grocery Model
Building Healthy Communities
December 11, 2020
Many New Yorkers struggle with growing food insecurity, with COVID-19 exacerbating existing gaps in all aspects of our food system: a lack of healthy and affordable food outlets in low-income neighborhoods; a lack of reliable transportation to reach healthy food outlets; and gaps in the capacity of food banks.
The Bargain Grocery is a nonprofit salvage grocery store model that offers high-quality food, including local produce from farmers, at greatly reduced prices. Partnering with local and national food distributors, Bargain Grocery stocks different items weekly, depending on what products are available from suppliers and what is donated, with prices typically half of what they would be at a chain grocery store. The operation is self-sustaining, with sales from the store invested directly back into operations. Launched in Utica, the Bargain Grocery also operates a commercial kitchen that provides grab-and-go meals, free cooking classes, and nutrition education to the community. In 2020, NYSHealth awarded the Global Strategic Leadership Network of Churches (GSLNC) a grant to replicate the Bargain Grocery model to increase food access in areas of the State where healthy food outlets are needed most.
Under this grant, GSLNC will create a detailed operations blueprint of the Bargain Grocery that organizations can use to replicate this model statewide. The blueprint will cover a comprehensive set of issues on how to set up and operationalize the Bargain Grocery, such as developing a community needs assessment; identifying financial resource for start-up costs; obtaining tax exemption status and establishing a governance structure; hiring staff; and fulfilling equipment and procurement needs. It will also include guidelines on how to become a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and a Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) authorized dealer, as well as how to work with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets on purchasing agreements with local farmers. A timeline and financial modeling templates for sustainability and growth will also be included. The blueprint will be made available, free of charge, to any nonprofit organization interested in replicating the model. GSLNC will work with State and local officials and other community partners to disseminate the blueprint and further scale the model across New York State.