La Grenade, a student grocery store with a participatory approach

Welcome to La Grenade, the Participative and Solidarity-Based Student Grocery Store!

To help students encountering financial difficulties and to promote food aid, La Grenade (FR),  Sciences Po's participative and solidarity-based student grocery store, was inaugurated on December 13th in the presence of Mathias Vicherat and the Erignac family, who awarded the Prix Claude Erignac 2021 to this innovative project. We met with two members of the student team, Elsa Ingrand and Pierre Peyrelongue, to discuss. 

 In a few words, could you outline the genesis of this project?

The initial idea was to set up a participatory grocery store at Sciences Po where students can come to do their shopping, decide together which products should be available on the shelves, and run the store by signing up for shifts. The grocery store’s objective is to make quality and sustainable products available to students, thus allowing them to reclaim control over their food consumption by buying food directly at their university while simultaneously creating a space for mutual aid and community building.
 The participatory model used at the grocery store allows all products to be sold at cost price, without applying a margin, which is beneficial for both buyers and producers. We are delighted that the grocery store reached fruition a few weeks ago and can now welcome students right in the courtyard of 56 rue des Saints-Pères
 
The project was conceived of during the first lockdown. Faced with growing lines of students waiting to receive food aid, it became necessary to further our accessibility goals by including a food-aid component. This project is open to students encountering difficulties, who are identified by Sciences Po's senior management and then referred to the grocery store. These students have access to organic and local products at a lower cost (20% of the market price). We felt it was essential to build the grocery store's two components according to the same principles: access to organic products, the inclusion of beneficiaries in the decision-making process, and a spirit of friendliness. 

How did you manage to turn the initial specifications into reality? 

The initial specifications were drawn up in close collaboration with the Direction de la Vie de Campus et de l'Engagement at Sciences Po and our partners: the nonprofit Mon Epi (FR) for the participatory aspect and the Association nationale des épiceries solidaires, ANDES (FR) for the solidarity aspect. And of course with all the members of the grocery store during long brainstorming sessions on Zoom to reconcile our ecological, solidarity, and democratic goals. We would also like to thank the Crous de Paris (FR) for having supplemented the investment aid provided by Sciences Po.

La Grenade is a self-managed grocery store by, and for, students. Can you tell us how it works?

All registered students work at the grocery store for two hours per month. This can be done directly in the grocery store during opening hours, but also during deliveries or by collecting produce in organic shops for the solidarity component. We rely on open-source software developed by Mon Epi, which allows us to easily organize grocery store tasks and to support all new grocers in their duties.
Our decision-making bodies are open to all members who wish to get involved and we try to apply participation and transparency rules for all decisions regarding the grocery store's organisation.  

How is your team structured? How can students get involved in the project? 

The best way to get involved in the project is to become a member and carry out a monthly shift at the grocery. Our team operates with working groups: from product selection to activities, treasury, and the solidarity component. Each group is represented by a referent. The "products" group is a good example of how the project functions democratically: members decide together which new products should be added to the catalog. 

You have become a permanent Sciences Po nonprofit association with this project. What are your long-term goals? 

First of all, to institutionalise the grocery store within Sciences Po by making it more visible and by developing member loyalty. We would like to be able to open it to as many students as possible, and eventually move to a bigger space to have more choice and storage room. We also aim to organise events around the grocery store (conferences, workshops, screenings, tastings, etc.) to promote the topic of food at Sciences Po. Finally, we would like to carry out an impact study on our model–which is quite new in the university environment–to understand how to improve it and possibly implement it in other universities. 

At the inauguration on December 13th, you were awarded the Prix Erignac, which honors a student initiative for its commitment to republican and humanist values every year. How do you plan to put this award to use?

We are very proud to have received this award, which will allow us to accelerate the development of the solidarity component. The first project is to set up weekly fruit and vegetable baskets priced at 1€. This will be launched in January 2022! Next, we plan to buy a cargo bike to collect unsold products in the neighborhood.

Interview by the Sciences Po Editorial Team

To find out more:

Babacar Seck:

Babacar Seck: "No university can succeed without its Alumni”

Originally from Dakar, Senegal, and Auvergne, France, Babacar Seck completed his university studies at Sciences Po, first in the Le Havre campus of the Undergraduate College and then in Paris to pursue his studies with the Master in Finance and Strategy. Today, he is an investment manager at Proparco and President of Sciences Po’s Cercle Afrique. He tells us about his career and his dedication to the African continent.

More
Tommaso Vitale Appointed Dean of the Urban School

Tommaso Vitale Appointed Dean of the Urban School

Mathias Vicherat, President of Sciences Po, has appointed Tommaso Vitale as Dean of the Urban School. Mr. Vitale succeeds Patrick Le Galès, and will take up his new position as Dean of the Urban School in September, after a transition period commencing on June 1. His appointment follows deliberations by a search committee composed of members from within and outside Sciences Po, set up in early March to select the best-suited candidate for the role of Dean of the Urban School.

More
Ethan Zuckerman at Sciences Po: “We need to imagine a better Internet”

Ethan Zuckerman at Sciences Po: “We need to imagine a better Internet”

Despite the internet’s many benefits, there is a widespread consensus that today’s tech structure and social media is harmful in multiple ways for individuals and society. What should be the future of social media? On May 10, 2022, Ethan Zuckerman, Associate Professor at the University of Massachusetts, and Director of the UMass Institute for Digital Public Infrastructure, discussed this question alongside President of ARTE Bruno Patino and Sciences Po Associate Professor of Economics Julia Cagé. A conference organized by the McCourt Institute in partnership with Sciences Po’s Center for Entrepreneurship.

More
Congratulations to the graduates of the 10th cohort of the Sciences Po - Columbia Dual BA!

Congratulations to the graduates of the 10th cohort of the Sciences Po - Columbia Dual BA!

The 10th graduation ceremony of the Dual BA Programme between Sciences Po and Columbia University took place in New York on Monday 16 May 2022. This year, 69 students will receive both their Sciences Po and Columbia Bachelor's degrees during a ceremony marked by emotion and the inspiring words of those who make it all happen. Also present were students from the classes of 2020 and 2021 whose ceremonies had been cancelled due to the pandemic.

More
CIVICA: focus on Joint Courses

CIVICA: focus on Joint Courses

On 29 April 2022, students from the joint course “Welfare States in Transition” taught by Bruno Palier of Sciences Po and Anke Hassel of the Hertie School were finally able to meet one another in person at Sciences Po. A debrief on this novel pedagogical experience with Frank Stadelmaier (CIVICA Senior Manager) and Carly Hafner (CIVICA Project Manager, Department of Studies and Partnerships).

More
A powerful exchange between Volodymyr Zelensky and the students of France

A powerful exchange between Volodymyr Zelensky and the students of France

In front of packed lecture halls adorned with blue and yellow flags, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky conversed for more than an hour on Wednesday 11 May 2022 with several hundred students from Sciences Po, the Institut National du Service Public, Ecole Polytechnique, Inalco, Université de Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Université de Paris II Panthéon Assas, the IEP of Lille, Sorbonne University, Université de Haute-Alsace, the Ecole du Louvre, Université de Lyon and Sorbonne Paris Nord. All over France, dozens of auditoriums were opened, and tens of thousands of people were able to follow, in person or online, this unprecedented exchange.

More
Insights on the War in Ukraine: Sciences Po's Response

Insights on the War in Ukraine: Sciences Po's Response

Over the course of the last few days, all eyes have been turned towards Ukraine and the war being waged on the orders of Vladimir Putin. Aggression on this scale, in direct violation of international law, and the unbridled disregard for the value of human life that have been witnessed over the past few days has left many feeling at a loss, unsure of how to process the events that are unfolding on the global stage.

More
Meet Farrah Trari, Recipient of the Marion Bruley Scholarship

Meet Farrah Trari, Recipient of the Marion Bruley Scholarship

Sciences Po students doing an internship in the United States have the possibility, subject to resources, to apply for the Marion Bruley Mobility Grant, financed by the Sciences Po American Foundation. This year a student from the School of Public Affairs, Farrah Trari, was chosen as the recipient of this scholarship and is currently doing an internship in New York. 

More