Good Grocer, model for Stewardship and Sustainability
The impact of the intellectual formation that happens in the classroom is enhanced when our students have the opportunity to connect what they have learned with real world examples of how to put their knowledge to work in service to others. When Dr. Christopher Thompson, Academic Dean recently visited Good Grocer in Minneapolis he observed that the workers expressed a "joy of life", he knew something greater was at work.
As he investigated the roots of the store, he realized the model embodied features consistent with the course outcomes of his Stewardship and Sustainability class. On a recent visit, the class was able to experience what is possible when one person steps out in faith to serve their neighbor.
The course focuses on the consideration of “environmental stewardship” from the perspectives of traditional Catholic theses concerning the meaning of creation and the status of the human person within it. The course introduces students to Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker Movement as it relates to Catholic social teaching and the co-op movement.
In the particular instance of Good Grocer, this co-op based grocery store serves as an answer to the industrial food production model we are most familiar with. Dr. Thompson said that “The founding principal of the organization was the result of one person's reflection on the Gospel, taking his relationship with Jesus Christ serisously and demonstrating a profound regard for the poor."
Bernadette Shaffer, a student in the Master of Arts in Religious Education degree program reflected on the visit in light of the concepts studied in class: “The trip tied in the concept of human dignity, health, and true charity for those in need. I was inspired by the founder of the Good Grocer's love for God and desire to provide the poor with a way to eat nutritiously and give back at the same time.”
In addition to connecting the concepts with the real world, the experience prompted an expansion in her understanding in how we can assist the poor in our communities. “I always thought that food shelves and free giveaways were the only way to distribute food to the poor. At the Good Grocer, I learned a new way assisting those in need. Shoppers can volunteer at the grocery store and thus earn discounts for the food they purchase. They feel full of purpose and confidence instead of embarrassment and indifference.” Shaffer said.