Posts Tagged ‘Felix Arroyo’

The following statement was sent to us from Laura Derba, President of North Atlantic region of Whole Foods. Derba was sent the following questions, but instead issued the statement. Here are the questions we asked:

  • When do you expect the new store to open?
  • What do you think of the two public letters written to the JP Neighborhood Council by Senator Chang-Díaz and Councillor Arroyo? Do you agree with all the recommendations they mention?
  • Will Whole Foods guarantee that cultural food staples from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and other countries of Latin America be stocked in the Hyde Square store?
  • Is Whole Foods committed to the development of a more robust Latin Quarter in Hyde Square? If so, what plans do you have to make this is a reality?
  • How many ex-Hi Lo employees have you hired to work in other Whole Food Locations? How many positions do you expect to have open in the Hyde Square location?

Here is what we received:

We are aware of the avid discussion in the community and online regarding the recent letters issued by Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz and City Councilor Felix Arroyo to the Ad-Hoc Committee on Whole Foods of the JP Neighborhood Council, and we genuinely appreciate the passionate interest. It’s exciting to be a part of a community that cares so much about what is happening in their neighborhood and we look forward to building positive partnerships when we open this fall.

We look forward to introducing ourselves to the neighborhood later this month at our first Town Hall meeting where we hope we can underscore our commitment to the community—that we are active community partners on a daily basis. From 5 % Days, food donations, event and sporting team sponsorships and community clean up days with Team Members, we strive to support the local community, economy and businesses. Giving back, acting as trusted partner and being a good neighbor supports our core values as a company and we look forward to proving ourselves as a positive community partner to JP residents. I’ll be providing additional information including the date of our Town Hall meeting in my second letter to the community, which will go out next week.

–Laura Derba, President, Whole Foods Market

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The Spanish "¿Y pa' quién?" means "And for who?"

A group opposed to the new Whole Foods store scheduled to be built in the Hyde Square section of Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood has recently launched a new web page to promote their message against urban gentrification. The group, called Whose Foods?, has created WhoseFoods.org. The site contains videos in English and Spanish from JP residents who oppose the new Whole Foods store, which is taking over the location where the Hi-Lo Latino market used to stand for the last 37 years.

According to its bilingual website, the group is “a multicultural, multigenerational group of Jamaican Plain residents and allies working together for a better JP.” It has listed three mission statements, and it is inviting anyone interested in this issue to speak out. The statements are as follow:

  • Against: a Whole Foods in Jamaica Plain and against the continued gentrification of JP”
  • For: a locally‐owned business that serves low and moderate income families in JP and beyond”
  • For: strengthening JP’s cultural, racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic diversity”

On Monday evening, February 28, JP will be active, as a Rally for an Affordable and Diverse JP is being planned for 6 pm at Mozart Park. At 7 pm, the JP Neighborhood Council will hold its second neighborhood forum at the Kennedy School regarding this issue. At the council’s first forum on February 7, an overwhelming majority of JP residents opposed the new Whole Foods.

Tomorrow’s forum should be more balanced, since some pro-Whole Foods groups have also been formed, primarily on Facebook. We Are All Whole Foods, formed by JP resident and social media professional Steve Garfield, is perhaps the most active one. It currently has 129 fans, compared to Whose Foods? and their 348 fans. The majority of comments on We Are Al Whole Foods are more pro-Whole Foods. For example, one JP Resident posted the following about the Whose Foods? videos:

Watching the videos on “Whose Foods, Whose Community” I see a distinct lack of diversity, and nothing but opinion full of unsupported if/then statements being made. E.g. If Whole Foods moves in, then rents will increase. If WF moves in, Latinos can’t afford food. If WF moves in, there will be no more diversity in JP. If WF moves in, Latinos won’t be able to find the foods they need for cooking native dishes. What? It strikes me that the underlying motive is really “keep Hyde Square Latino.” Where are the Anglo voices on their site? The Afro voices? The actual diversity of JP which spans cultures and income ranges?

As for an official statement from Whole Foods, we have contacted the Whole Foods Northeast office for comment several times, but they have not responded to us.

Boston politicians have also been contacted to comment about this issue, but except comments from City Councillors Ayanna Pressley and Matt O’Malley, other leaders have not returned our calls or emails for comments. These include Boston Mayor Tom Menino, State Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz, State Representative Jeffrey Sánchez, and Councillor Felix Arroyo. If we do hear from any of these elected officials, we will post their statements.

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