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Whole Foods Market® opens its doors in Jamaica Plain

Store features include expansive bulk offerings, pizza oven and prepared foods

Jamaica Plain, Mass., (October 31, 2011) – Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ: WFM), the world’s leading natural and organic supermarket and America’s first national certified organic grocer, opened the doors of the newest location, in Jamaica Plain, today.

The store, which spans more than 13,700 square feet and employs 104 full and part time team members will offer the Jamaica Plain community access to the freshest and healthiest local, natural and organic products at an affordable price.

“We are so pleased to open our doors in Hyde Square. We have created a beautiful store that will be a great match for the Jamaica Plain community,” says Store Team Leader, Mike Walker. “It is particularly exciting for us to have the chance now to really show our neighbors what Whole Foods Market offers as responsible, active community partners.”

The new store, located at 413 Centre Street is the result of a complete renovation of the interior of the existing space. Modeled for energy efficiency, Whole Foods Market Jamaica Plain boasts a number of green technologies, including LED lighting and state of the art refrigeration systems. The parking lot, which offers 68 spaces, also has an electric car charging station as well as racks for 15 bikes and a self-service bike repair station.

No two Whole Foods Market stores are alike. Each store is designed to reflect the community it serves. Whole Foods Market Jamaica Plain was designed to echo the vibrant culture of Hyde Square, while paying homage to the Googie style of architecture that makes the building so unique.

The products carried in Whole Foods Market Jamaica Plain are also a reflection of the community. From locally produced to ethnically influenced selections, the shelves are stocked with affordably priced products that meet the company’s strict quality standards.

Along with the grocery, produce, meat, seafood, specialty, bakery and Whole Body departments, Whole Foods Market Jamaica Plain offers an expanded bulk department featuring a wide selection of beans, grains, nuts, seeds and dried fruits.

For customers looking for convenience, Whole Foods Market Jamaica Plain offers a great variety of prepared foods, including a large salad bar and hot bar, as well as a pizza oven and Panini station.

“Whole Foods Market Jamaica Plain is unlike any of our other stores,” says Walker. “We are so excited for longtime Whole Foods Market shoppers and the folks who haven’t ever had the opportunity to shop with us before, to come see what we have created just for them!”

Jamaica Plain Store Information:

Whole Foods Market Jamaica Plain

Address: 413 Centre St. Jamaica Plain, MA

Phone: 617.553.5400

Hours of operation: 8:00 a.m.- 10:00 p.m. daily

 

 

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It seems that no matter what Whole Foods does to promote its commitment to the Boston community, it continues to answer the critics, even though it is now only about 200 people who have gone on record to oppose the construction of a new Whole Foods supermarket in the Hyde Square section of Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood.

Here is the email that the anti-Whole Foods group, Whose Foods?, issued on the morning of October 3:

Whole Foods must pay JP employees a living wage

Last Wednesday, Whole Foods market announced a job fair in Jamaica Plain this week. While the fair is an important step towards restoring jobs to 415 Centre St., Whole Foods has offered no guarantee that those jobs will pay well enough for workers to actually live in JP without housing assistance.

Nearly 200 neighbors have signed a statement demanding that Whole Foods pay a living wage to workers residing in Jamaica Plain and enter a binding agreement. Contrary to their glossy image, JP Whole Foods’ entry-level wages are below the living wage in Boston — $10 an hour to start, more than $3 an hour below what our city has determined to be a wage sufficient to keep a family of four on or above the poverty line.1 Whole Foods should pay all its workers a living wage.

Why does Jamaica Plain need a binding agreement to trust that Whole Foods will do right? Because Whole Foods has shown time and time again that it will do whatever it can to cut costs at the expense of good jobs. Whole Foods is the second largest non-union food retailer in the United States after Wal-Mart, and has also refused to hire union electricians for the Jamaica Plain store’s construction despite daily picketing by the IBEW for the last two weeks at the location. The Whose Foods / Whose Community? Coalition for an Affordable and Diverse JP stands in solidarity with the picketers.

Neighbors will continue to demand that Whole Foods pay its workers a living wage by entering into a binding agreement with Jamaica Plain. The agreement should also provide funding for anti-displacement work, affordable housing, youth programs, food assistance, and local business assistance.

By this afternoon, Whole Foods’ Northeast Regional Office had sent us a statement about the Whose Foods? email. Here it is:

Whole Foods Market is proud to be among the highest paying employers in the grocery industry.  Beyond paying above what our competitors pay, we offer benefits to full and part time employees, as well as a 20% discount on all Whole Foods Market purchases. Our generous wage and benefits package along with the fact that 70% of our team members are full time, are among the reasons we have been named on Fortune Magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” every year, for the past 14 years.  We would encourage anyone with concerns about our employees earning a living wage to visit our website for a full outline of our benefits.  www.wholefoodsmarket.com/careers

Prior to a new store opening, Whole Foods Market uses an open shop bid process to request and receive competitive bids for goods and services involved in the construction process. Contractors bid on the identical job and we make our decision based on quality and price — which is smart and standard business practice.

Whole Foods Market supports the rights of all workers, union and non-union, to work in a safe environment that is free from discrimination, harassment, and any other unlawful conduct. We work diligently to comply with all local, state and federal labor laws and we work hard to find the best partners to help us build our new stores. More than 50% of the sub-contractors that we hired for the new Jamaica Plain store are, in fact, union trade organizations.

In the end, the opinions of 200 people (some of whom don’t even live in JP) have been heard. Whole Foods has literally gone out of its way to respond their critics. With growing unemployment in this country, isn’t it time to just move on and let Whole Foods run a business? As people around the United States express their rage against corporations, they should be lucky that Whole Foods is actually the kind of corporation this country needs more of.

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In response to a last-ditch by a small group of community activists in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood, Whole Foods’ Northeast Region issued this statement to us this morning:

Whole Foods Market has a long history as responsible community partners, not only through our deeply rooted involvement with local programs and committees, but also through our extensive give-back programs.  We are committed to having a dedicated community market liaison at each store location whose job is to work with local community groups and non-profit organizations.  Since January, 2011, Whole Foods Market has donated or promised more than $36,000 in monetary and food donations to JP community groups, schools and non-profit organizations, and this is just the beginning of our efforts as we are open to supporting any 501c3 that supports the causes that are important to Jamaica Plain’s residents. The JPNC recently requested that Whole Foods Market create a fund for use by JP community groups, which is a request that has never been made to any other retailer joining JP. Creating a fund for a specific community is not how we do business, nor have we ever found it necessary given our history of community involvement. Our outlook at this time has not changed, and we are now focusing 100% of our energy on opening our new store in Jamaica Plain.

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Even though it is already a done deal, anti-Whole Foods voices in Jamaica Plain —a small, yet vocal minority— issued a public statement today that makes some very unique demands of a private business. We have published it here:

Open Statement: Whole Foods Must Sign a Community Benefits Agreement with Jamaica Plain

The Whose Foods? Coalition is deeply disappointed in Whole Foods’ dismissal of the Good Neighbor Agreement put forward by the JP Neighborhood Council last Wednesday.  We were hopeful that a Good Neighbor Agreement would enable Whole Foods to benefit all of JP, the 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.

Whole Foods says it’s unwilling to enter into a Good Neighbor Agreement.  The Whose Foods? Coalition is unwilling to let Whole Foods walk into our neighborhood without a real commitment to keeping JP affordable and diverse.  Demanding that Whole Foods enter an agreement to counteract the negative effects of its opening is common sense.  It’s asking for a fair shake from a good neighbor who is willing to pull their own weight.

“Good Neighbor” or “Community Benefits” Agreements are not new, or crazy, or outlandish.  The Stop & Shop development in Jackson Square involved a Community Benefits Agreement, as did the IKEA in Somerville.  A Community Benefits Agreement is based on the principle that companies benefit substantially from the resources built by neighbors in a community. Companies, therefore, should share a part of the wealth they gain from the community.

Even 1% of the annual revenue from Whole Foods’ Jamaica Plain store would help prevent the displacement of our neighbors.  It would help organizers work towards better policies and against destructive rent-hikes.  It would help ensure that there are affordable housing options in our neighborhood.  It would help low-income people, many of whom are Latino or African American, be able to stay and enjoy the neighborhood that that is home — and that many people with longstanding roots have fought hard to improve, only to be threatened with displacement.

We demand this 1% for the funding of local anti-displacement organizing, especially in Hyde Square, and the creation and/or preservation of local affordable housing, annually for the duration of the store’s 20-year lease.  We demand a small slice of the pie that our neighborhood makes possible.  Being a good neighbor means mutuality.

The Whose Foods? Coalition also supports other demands that came out of JP’s Neighborhood Council’s months-long research on the corporation:

1) a living wage (at minimum) for all employees in JP

2) a published traffic study prior to opening

3) funding for youth programs, food assistance and local business assistance

Whole Foods told Boston.com that “Definitely a large percentage of the items are things Whole Foods already does.”  Where’s the concrete evidence of the corporation’s commitment to a living wage, its published traffic study, and funding for youth, food access, and local business?

More urgently, where’s evidence that Whole Foods is taking seriously the outcry over its impact on property values and displacement, its undeniable role in the negative aspects of urban gentrification, and demands for contributions toward housing accessibility in JP?  The corporation came secretly into Hyde Square, the “Latin Quarter”, of our neighborhood last winter, leased a grocery space that was a staple of Latino community. Refusing to offer meaningful contributions that will control the threat of displacement, it simply runs local ads in Spanish.  Whole Foods, face the issue of displacement, the issue of gentrification — enter a formal community benefits agreement and give 1%.

Whole Foods can absolutely afford to pay its fair share.  Whole Foods paid a corporate tax rate of under 10% last year, and generated a windfall profit for its shareholders.  It generated over 9 billion dollars last year via its 300+ stores (touting itself as the “world’s largest retailer of natural and organic foods.”).  The bottom line is this: Whole Foods makes additional profit by passing off the cost of their impact on neighborhoods. This impact includes losing money that would have circulated in local businesses; losing families who get pushed out by rent increases; and losing economic and cultural diversity.

Progressive-minded residents of Jamaica Plain, now is our time to represent, to act.  Start by calling Whole Foods Market’s regional headquarters, and encourage them to sign a meaningful agreement.  Call your elected officials; tell them to support an agreement between Whole Foods and Jamaica Plain.  Email the JP non-profits you support, recommending their solidarity.  And email the JP Neighborhood Council with support and encouragement for their efforts.

As progressives, as neighbors, and as a community we must demand loudly a binding agreement and 1% for affordable housing in our neighborhood.  We must demand a living wage, a public traffic study, and funding for youth, food access and local business.  A binding agreement can set an important national precedent for urban communities struggling to maintain affordability and diversity in the face of large corporations shifting their sights from suburbs to cities.  We must claim our power as a community, because the future of this story is in our hands.

The following people have added their names in support of this statement.  If you’d like, you can add your own name here: http://whosefoods.org/cba-today

Benjamin Day

Santiago Cárdenas

Brian Squadrille

Travis Reed Miller

Michelle Sedaca

Maia Laperle

Tiffany Dumont

Helen Matthews

Martha Rodriguez

akunna eneh

Ben Mauer

Aisha Shillingford

Terrence Wells

Stephanie Bird

Erin Dwyer

Robbie Samuels

Alison Brill

Giovanna Tapia

Monica Rey

Benjamin Rey

Andrew Murray

Marta Perrupato

Claire Passey

Matt Garber

Stephen Swift

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