Published On: Tue, Dec 22nd, 2015

Jewish Agency Launches New Chain of Food Co-Ops to Lower Cost of Groceries in Israel

For the first time in Israel: A unique model of food co-ops operated as social ventures and managed by their customers in order to provide Israeli communities with low-cost, high-quality grocery options

 

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky shops at the new Tzarchaniyat Ha’Ir food co-op in Sderot,   December 21,   2015. Photo credit: David Shechter for The Jewish Agency for Israel.

 

The Jewish Agency for Israel launched Tzarchaniyat Ha’Ir (“CityMart”), a new chain of food co-ops that will be located throughout Israel’s socioeconomic periphery and will offer customers groceries for significantly less than market prices. This is the first time that such a model is being launched in Israel, combining a response to the cost of living in Israel and a partnership with local residents. The Jewish Agency is embarking on this venture in partnership with the Israel Venture Network (IVN) and with the notable contribution of UJA-Federation of New York, as well as the United Jewish Endowment Fund of Greater Washington and private donors.

Tzarchaniyat Ha’Ir (“CityMart”) will operate as a social venture and all its earnings will go toward launching additional branches, lowering prices even further, and fostering communal activities for local residents. Communal activities at the branches will be run by local young people who are interested in creating social change in their communities. All earnings from sales will be invested in strengthening the local communities, as well as in further developing the venture. In addition to the 200 sq m branch in Sderot, a second branch is set to open this month in Arad. The goal is to launch ten new branches every year, and forty in total over the first few years. Tens of millions of shekels will be invested in this venture.

The products sold in the co-ops will be sourced from small and medium-sized companies, in an effort to offer residents of Israel’s socioeconomic periphery lower-cost groceries. Local producers will also be offered an opportunity to join the project. Wares will be received at several logistical centers, which will supply local branches according to their needs. The individual co-ops will survey the lowest prices offered in the area, ensuring that each individual product is offered at the lowest price available amongst competitors. Additionally, members of the chain’s buyers’ club will receive a 15% discount.

Mayor Alon Davidi praised the new venture as a major contribution to the city of Sderot and as a further expression of the longstanding partnership between the city and The Jewish Agency for Israel.

Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky said: “The Jewish Agency serves as a bridge, both between Israel and the Jewish world and between the different segments of Israeli society. We not only bring increasing numbers of immigrants to Israel and facilitate their integration into Israeli society – we also take care to strengthen and develop Israel’s social fabric.
This new initiative seeks not only to lower the cost of living and ensure that everyone has access to high-quality, affordable groceries, but also to strengthen the local community by involving community members, consumers, and activists in a cooperative effort that belongs to them alone. This sense of shared responsibility is what unites the community, and we at The Jewish Agency, along with our partners in Jewish communities around the world, are privileged to be a part of it.”

Paul Siegel of UJA-Federation of New York said: “UJA-Federation of New York is proud to be a founding partner of this project. This initiative is about increasing the accessibility and affordability of food and household products in the communities that struggle most. It’s also about dignity and empowerment; enabling low income individuals and community members at large to find their voice and contribute to the creation of new systems for food provision.”

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