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Mayor's Office of Sustainability visits RHD's Equal Dollars Market

08/17/2010 2:47:12 PM
Deneene Brockington, Sarah Wu and Bob Fishman
Equal Dollars director Deneene Brockington (l), chats with Sarah Wu, outreach and policy coordinator for the Mayor's Office of Sustainability and RHD CEO Bob Fishman (r) at RHD's Equal Dollars Market.

RHD’s thriving Equal Dollars Market welcomed a special guest this week, as Sarah Wu, outreach and policy coordinator for the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, visited to see how the local community currency is helping families put food on the table in tough economic times.

The Equals Dollars Market is open every Monday at Resources for Human Development, a local nonprofit human services organization located at the intersection of Abbottsford Road and Wissahickon Avenue. Consumers can purchase food using Equal Dollars, a companion currency and an alternative to the U.S. Dollar. A variety of fresh fruits and vegetables is provided by US FoodService-Philadelphia, one of the largest food distribution companies in the country. No family income qualification is necessary.

“I was really impressed with the market,’’ Wu said. “It’s a great idea, to find food resources that exist that other people aren’t thinking of. It’s outside-the-box thinking, which is great to see.”

As the city works to explore ways to find hunger in Philadelphia, Wu visited the Equal Dollars Market as part of an ongoing effort evaluate what food systems exist in the city to benefit food-insecure families. According to the latest Greater Philadelphia Food System Study, 800,000 households are food-insecure, meaning they experience difficulties providing enough food for their families due to a lack of resources.

Wu was on hand to see workers setting up the market in the morning, and saw the hustle and bustle as shoppers came through to purchase food using Equal Dollars. The use of a companion currency was a new idea, she said.

“That was definitely food for thought – no pun intended,’’ Wu said, laughing. “We do want to talk more about that, and think that idea through.”

Equal Dollars Community Currency is a non-interest bearing currency that promotes the exchange of goods, services and labor through a membership network. Local businesses that accept the currency build stronger re- lationships and a greater affinity within the community. People who join and use the currency make a conscious commitment to support their local economy by buying within the community first.

“As our community increasingly uses Equal Dollars, we’re always looking for ways to make goods and services available for purchase using an alternate currency,’’ said Deneene Brockington, Equal Dollars Community Currency program director. “One of the things that came up in our discussions was the lack of farmers markets in lower-income neighborhoods. We’re happy to provide one here, and illustrate another example of how outside-the-box thinking provides ways for people to acquire goods and services without having to rely on the U.S. Dollar.”

RHD CEO Bob Fishman called Equal Dollars “an engine of growth whose power we are only beginning to enjoy.”

“In most of our communities, U.S. dollars are scarce and expensive – while local energy and goods are abundantly available,’’ said Fishman, who accepts a portion of his CEO salary in Equal Dollars. “This tool of a local interest free currency will help us to combine what’s going to waste and add vitality to local economies.”

For more information on Equal Dollars, contact: Kevin Roberts, RHD Communications, at 215-951-0300 (ext. 3714) or email at: kevinr@rhd.org