Group calls on Whole Foods to sign agreement

September 13, 2011
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Whose Foods? Whose Community? The Coalition for a Diverse and Affordable JP released a statement today calling on Whole Foods to sign a “good neighbor” agreement presented to the company by the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC).

In the letter, Whose Foods calls for the agreement to include promises by Whole Foods to pay a living wage; to conduct and present a study on the new store’s potential impact on traffic; and to fund youth, food assitance and local business assistance programs in the community.

The letter, signed by 20 people, also calls on Whole Foods to donate one percent of its earning from the Jamaica Plain store to helping preserve affordable housing in JP.

Whose Foods supports the agreement as a way to make sure that Whole Foods benefits “residents who want to shop there and the residents who cannot, those who would benefit from having their property values rise and those who would be pushed out by rent increases,” the letter says.

Whose Foods member Martha Rodriguez told the Gazette she was “extremely disappointed” by recent reports that Whole Foods declined to sign the agreement with the JPNC. “They just think a salad bar and a pathetic ‘5 percent day’ is enough,” she said—referring to Whole Foods’ donation of a salad bar to the local Curley School’s cafeteria, and the company’s practice of donating 5 percent of its profits from local stores to charities on designated days.

Whole Foods met with the JPNC Sept. 7. A statement from the JPNC following that meeting said Whole Foods was “unwilling” to sign an agreement, but JPNC chair Andrea Howley later told the Gazette that there is still a chance Whole Foods might sign it.

Also, it is not certain that all of the concessions asked for in the Whose Foods letter are in the agreement the JPNC wants Whole Foods to sign. The JPNC has not publicized the text of its Good Neighbor Agreement, but Howley previously told the Gazette that it will soon be published on the JPNC website, jpnc.org.

Whole Foods was not immediately available for comment for this article.