Haydin Zogaric | Daily Nexus

The Isla Vista Food Cooperative, a locally beloved grocery store located on Seville Road, recently celebrated its 50th anniversary with a public event on April 30 in Anisq’Oyo Park featuring musical performances, activities and tons of free food and drink. 

 In an endeavor to rebuild community sentiment following the 1970 Bank of America burning, the cooperative was founded by UC Santa Barbara students in 1972 as the Whole Wheat Buying Club, later opening their first storefront as the Whole Wheat Food Cooperative. Although it endured many changes and challenges in its early years, it remained strong and continued to serve the community with its democratic process and customer-minded focus. Today’s Isla Vista Food Co-op has long served as an affordable, healthy, and environmentally minded establishment, bringing Isla Vista residents together through good food.

Kimberly Kiefer, general manager of the Isla Vista Recreation & Park District, organized the Isla Vista Spring Concert Series which provided the musical entertainment for the event. She says she was “honored to work in coordination with the Co-op and celebrate their 50th anniversary.” Performers included local artists Odd Army, imKENNETHY, jomch and more. Along with watching musical performances, event goers also had the opportunity to watch the live creation of a spray-painted mural or receive free face painting and henna tattoos. Kiefer highlighted the importance of active participation in the parks and opportunities for artists to showcase their work to the community.

Representatives from organizations including CalFresh, the Edible Campus Program, the Isla Vista Community Services District, the Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District, and the Isla Vista Recreation & Park District tabled at the event, offering resources for students about food insecurity, community gardens, local government, and more. 

The I.V. Food Co-op provided plenty of refreshments, such as vegan wraps, cookies from Santa Barbara Cookie Company, vegan and gluten-free cupcakes from Crushcakes & Café and, of course, fresh seasonal fruit. Santa Barbara Cookie Company is “Santa Barbara owned and operated” (cookiesofsb.com) and their cookies are sold at the Co-op. Crushcakes & Café is a woman-owned business located on Hollister Avenue in Goleta (crushcakes.com). The snacks were delicious and reminded attendees of the amazing variety of healthy products featured at the Co-op. 

It was a beautiful sight as community members gathered to play outdoor games, listen to live music, share their favorite memories and learn about the rich history of the Co-op and Isla Vista. The event served as a perfect way to celebrate the Co-op, wrap up the Spring Concert Series and conclude the April Earth month festivities. 

For more information on upcoming Co-op events and promotions, follow their Instagram @islavistafoodcoop.

A version of this article appeared on p. 11 of the May 12, 2022 version of the Daily Nexus