Whole Foods Letter to Jamaica Plain: Store to Open in Fall, Managers Hired

In the letter, Whole Foods also says it will be funding a salad bar at the Curley School.

[Editor's note: This is a letter from Laura Derba, North Atlantic regional president of Whole Foods Market.]

Dear Jamaica Plain Residents,

We’re excited to say that we’ve received the keys to , and our renovations are under way. As I promised in my last letter, I want to share with you our latest developments. We’ve received hundreds of calls and emails from people expressing their support and enthusiasm about our upcoming store opening, which we greatly appreciate.

Store Update:

We are currently completing our demolition phase inside the building and finalizing our design plans.  As previously stated, we will not be making any changes to the structure of the building or to exterior features that make the building so unique. However the interior of the building requires extensive work in order to bring it up to code. This process will likely take up to six months, so we anticipate a fall opening date. To stay up to date on the progress, follow us on Twitter at @WFM_JP. We already have over 270 followers!

Perhaps our most exciting update is that we have hired the leadership team for the store.  I’m proud to introduce Mike Walker and Wanda Hernandez as the Store Team Leader and Associate Store Team Leader of the JP store. Mike has been a Whole Foods Market team member since 1994, most recently as the Store Team Leader of our Symphony store. Wanda has been with Whole Foods Market since 2005, most recently as the Associate Store Team Leader in our Wellesley location. Mike and Wanda both have ties to the Jamaica Plain area, and share a great vision for creating a community market that becomes an integral and seamless part of the neighborhood.

Your Community Market:

We’ve been inspired by the great showing of community involvement that we’ve witnessed in the past few months. It is wonderful to be part of a community that cares so deeply about what’s happening in their neighborhood! I’d like to share with you some exciting updates on our community partnerships:

Supporting Local Organizations: Just last month, our Brighton and Symphony stores raised over $8,500 for the during a 5 Percent Day, thanks to the amazing support of the community! We will hold 5 Percent Days to support local nonprofit organizations quarterly.

Healthy Food in Schools: The Boston Latin School will be the first school in the city of Boston to launch their salad bar funded through our Salad Bar Project initiative. From there, we will extend the program to the , where we plan to donate another salad bar to help encourage healthier lunch options through access to fresh fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains.

Local Growers and Producers: This summer, we are hoping to host farmers’ markets in our parking lot so that local growers and producers can have a place to sell their food free of charge.  Once we officially open our doors, we will also try to support these local producers and many others by carrying as many local products as we can. 

Town Hall Meeting:

As promised, we will hold our on Thursday, June 2 at the from 7:00 - 8:30 pm. We are looking forward to formally introducing ourselves and our store leadership team, as well as presenting our plans for the store. There will also be a 30 minute Q&A period that will give community members an opportunity to ask questions about the store, as well as making suggestions of ways we can best serve as Jamaica Plain’s neighborhood’s community market.

Product Offerings:

We are looking to you to tell us what products you would like to see in the store. Our buyers are working diligently to stock a wide range of products that meet our strict quality standards. We want to hear from you! We’ve created an email address, JP_Products@wholefoods.com, and we will be handing out self addressed post cards at our Town Hall Meeting so that the JP community can tell us what products you’d like to see on our shelves. 


As we proceed with renovations and get a clearer idea of when we will open, we will begin the hiring process for the store. We will be conducting interviews from a trailer on the store’s property. We plan to hire around 100 team members (approximately 70 full-time, 30 part-time) and hope that many of them will be from the local JP community. More information on becoming a Whole Foods Market team member will be available at the community meeting.

We look forward to the meeting on June 2. We are eager to introduce ourselves and share with you what Whole Foods Market is all about!


Kind regards,

Laura Derba

North Atlantic Regional President

Whole Foods Market

Pat Roberts May 22, 2011 at 02:16 PM
Rira, I also know a young woman who scammed the welfare system: after she had her baby, she lived with her boyfriend and his mother, and told her caseworker that she didn't know where the father was. She got to stay home with her baby for a year. Around the same time, our kids were little. We both worked part-time so we could trade off taking care of the baby, seldom saw each other, were tight on money, etc. I didn't learn about her scam until later, or I would definitely have turned her in (though I wonder if it would have done any good). Then, when her boyfriend started hitting her, she got into a subsidized apartment. Her new boyfriend moved in with her (not in the rules) and started paying some of her rent (ditto). We taxpayers were still subsidizing her, despite our own challenges to get by. Periodically there are stories in the paper about families in housing projects like Bromley Heath who have lived for generations in subsidized housing and have been scamming the system for that long. It's interesting that attempts to reform this system happen so seldom. I imagine it's because there is a strong lobby to protect it, and politicians don't want to be criticized as heartless. And people who don't really know the details of the scammers will always defend it.
Michael Halle May 23, 2011 at 06:35 AM
Pat, Forgive me for not remembering the age of your children, but the case you refer to must have been from at least fifteen or twenty years ago, right? There have in fact been major changes in the welfare system since then, particularly in 1996 under Bill Clinton and a Republican Congress. Those changes include work requirements and federal lifetime limits on benefits. Housing programs have not changed as radically, but given the number of even minor changes that have happened since then, I'm not sure what specific lessons about the system one can draw today from the example you relate. On the other hand, your experience re-affirms that raising children is really hard work, doing it on a limited income can force extremely difficult choices, and having your boyfriend start hitting you while you're trying to raise a small kid is a pretty awful experience made much worse by being poor. Whatever one's view of the system as a whole, I think there's a reasonable expectation of lenience and expedience in, say, domestic violence abuse cases where there's a child involved. You don't have to be a "bleeding heart" to not be heartless.
Rira May 23, 2011 at 05:02 PM
Among other huge issues, housing is the single issue that dramatically influences ALL conversations when so often the visible and very real heart breaking cases are fewer (we will NEVER know the real numbers ) than the press and pandering politicians and job saving bearucrats will ever admit or allow to be investigated by a true 3rd party such as an expert consultant with zero interest in the outcome. The housing issue is driving the whose fooders and whiiping them into a frenzy when in reality, some of the truly heart breaking stories that EVERYONE does care about , even a tea partier i am sure is totally unaffected by gentrification. Public housing residents have fixed rates, so rising property vlaues has no effect on thsoe in need , they are already protected and there are a 1,000 more units under construction!
Rira May 23, 2011 at 05:02 PM
A single parent in dire conditions, the families that the activists are advocating for will never be affected by a grocery store - but seeing them, or imagining them being affected by while foods stirs up incredible emotions. The whose fooders and people like Chang Diaz are driven by emotions, that are driven by headlines, and headlines sell newspapers. Emotions are no way to really help people. But politicians LOVE emotions, because they can press that button and get elected - it's far easier than doing the work of getting at the root of a systemic problem like affordable housing abuse. If a courageous politician could efficiently use the affordable units we now have, get the 2nd, 3rd, 4th etc generations out of their 'deeded' units and open them up to those who really need them, we would not need more!
Rira May 23, 2011 at 05:09 PM
And the with the existing stock of a variety of affordable housing options, in projects, sec 8, 80/20 buildings, federal, state, city , public/private partnerships, etc etc etc etc efficiently used with those who no longer qualify OUT, and those who DO, get that unit, we can then have affordable housing AND market housing co-exist in TRUE diversity WITH economically viable businsses that have jobs, good and services and yes, raise property values, so our government can then tax properties and raise revenue so it can afford to provide ALL the services we all want. Lower property values = lower taxes = cuts to all programs = plain /simple.


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