Mandela Marketplace is based in West Oakland, and primarily serves that dynamic community. We do, however, reach into areas of North Oakland with our Mandela Marketplace Stands, and Ashland/Cherryland through a growing partnership with the Ashland/Cherryland Garden & Arts Network and Soul Sisters Farm and Food.
West Oakland is a diverse, and complex community with tremendous potential to footprint a locally sustainable, culturally rich destination. It is a community with food security and economic disinvestment challenges that make West Oakland an ideal target for development investment, activism, and policy change. This is a critical time. Compared to a white child born in the Oakland Hills, a child born in West Oakland is one and a half times more likely to be born premature and seven times more likely to be born into poverty. His/her family will be forced to find the ingredients to try to make a healthy meal in an area that has two to three times the concentration of liquor and convenience stores.
Mandela MarketPlace incubates community-directed strategies to address these critical health and wealth gaps. Using a network of food-based enterprises, Mandela has already had a profound impact, creating successful social enterprise businesses in grocery-retail, prepared foods, wholesale distribution, and in nutrition education and youth development. One of our major goals is to create opportunity for existing and long-time residents to culturally, economically and socially benefit from the changes happening in their community and neighborhoods.
Some of the challenges that approximately 25,000 West Oakland residents face include:
Poverty: West Oakland is one of the poorest neighborhoods in the Bay Area. The poverty rate is double California’s rate, and unemployment is almost twice that of the national average. 45% of households earn less than $25,000 a year, and 72% earn less that $50,000 a year. 24% of West Oakland residents receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, and 32% of households have no car -- further exacerbating food access issues.
Economic Disinvestment: Retail
in the community is sparse at best, and residents are forced to supply
their basic needs outside of the community, or from area
liquor/convenience markets. The community reports an 83% retail leakage
rate, representing $70M leaving the community due to lack of
availability to basic goods and services.
Access to ownership and living wage job opportunities are equally as rare.
Health: The residents of West Oakland face a diabetes rate that is three times higher than the rest of Alameda County. Lack of healthy food options and nutrition education are largely to blame with studies showing that the incidence for chronic disease is 20% higher for those living in unhealthy food environments, like West Oakland. Access to affordable, fresh, healthy food is a basic right which many residents of low-income communities of color are denied.