Skip to content

Cooperatives & Mutual Aid

How can we help each other? In the collision of crises that our communities are experiencing, there is so much need right now. One really powerful way that these needs are being met is by mutual aid projects. You may have heard the term mutual aid, but maybe you haven’t! So we’ll start there — what is mutual aid? And what does it have to do with food co-ops?

Mutual aid principles

Different than philanthropic charity, mutual aid projects are typically:

  • Self-organized
  • Egalitarian
  • Direct action
  • Desiring social transformation

Rather than being a structure of haves giving to the have-nots, mutual aid recognizes the fact that people need people. It recognizes the gaps in our current hierarchical systems, and hopes to be a part of something different. It’s a horizontal system where everyone benefits.

This mutual aid chart provides some additional detail.

Food co-ops & mutual aid

There is significant overlap between the principles of food co-ops & those of mutual aid projects. The first recorded black-led co-ops in the late 18th century were even called mutual aid societies.

Both emphasize the importance of:

  • Democratic control
  • Autonomy & independence
  • Concern for community

From Davis Food Co-op’s community freedge to Mandela Grocery’s karma jar, we see food co-ops as a way that we can build something different within our food systems.

Local mutual aid projects

Several local mutual aid projects are directly meeting needs here in Nashville, and we want to take a moment to shout those out.

Get involved if you’re able, use these resources if you need them. And above all, let’s work together!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *