Anti-Whole Foods group protests on - Metro US

Anti-Whole Foods group protests on

Martha Rodriguez is looking to the past in her fight for the future of her Jamaica Plain neighborhood.

Rodriguez is a mother, a 15-year Jamaica Plain resident and a member of the Whose Food, Whose Community group that opposed Whole Food’s expansion in Hyde Square.

“It is difficult to go up against a corporation like that, but at the same time … we have a lot of people who are against corporations in Jamaica Plain,” said Rodriguez while outside the new Whole Foods during a Halloween night protest that featured “corporate vampires” and demands that the company sign a “Community Benefit Agreement.”

The store, which opened earlier than expected this week, has come under fire from some residents since plans for it to move in to the former Hi-Lo Foods building were announced. Groups tried block the store, claiming it would hurt neighborhood diversity and small businesses.

Despite setbacks like some opposed residents getting arrested during meetings about the store, and the store’s opening, protesters said their confidence has not waned.

JP residents are not unfamiliar with taking on projects viewed as harmful to their neighborhood.

Decades ago they were among the group of people who fought the state’s plans to divide the neighborhood with I-95.

The highway would cut through that neighborhood and others along the Southwest Corridor. But their grassroots effort stopped it.

As for the Whole Foods battle, residents said their fight is not yet over.

“It has sparked so many conversations across Jamaica Plain … a series of forums that were really well attended and the conversation is far from over,” said Whose Food member Reed Miller.

Whole Foods responds to calls

Heather McCready, a spokeswoman for Whole Foods, said the company does not sign on to funds that benefit one community.

She did say, however, that a giveback program would be held at the grocery store later this month where 5 percent of the proceeds would be given to Community Servings, a Jamaica Plain-based meal delivery program for individuals and families living with critical and chronic illnesses.

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