‘I come here every day for a reason’ — this short film highlights the essential role of grocery store workers

A deep sense of community service drives the staff of West Oakland’s Community Foods Market.

For Essential, a new film for Nosh by Berkeley-based, independent production company Pedal Born Pictures, filmmakers Jacob and Isaac Seigel-Boettner wanted to introduce viewers to a few of the essential workers who work at Community Foods Market (3105 San Pablo Ave., Oakland), a full-service grocery store that opened a year ago to serve West Oakland residents living in the McClymonds, Hoover-Foster and Clawson neighborhoods.

“The market provides such a crucial service in that neighborhood, especially now, and we think it could be a powerful story to share through film,” Jacob Seigel-Boettner said.

But, since the pandemic, Community Foods has found that it’s feeding many more than just those in the immediate area. Owner Brahm Ahmadi told the filmmakers that, these days, people from further outside the neighborhood have found a new grocery go-to at Community Foods.

Essential captures the pride that the store’s workers feel to be serving that larger community during the crisis, despite the dangers of potentially exposing themselves and their families to COVID-19.


“[Working on the film] gave me a renewed appreciation for the work that grocery store employees do on a daily basis,” Seigel-Boettner said. “These are incredibly hard-working people.”

After spending the day filming at Community Foods and getting to know its employees, Seigel-Boettner said he felt an enormous sense of gratitude.

“Gratitude to those like Jose who rise before the sun to seek out fresh produce. Those like Rocio and Andres who work tirelessly to keep shelves stocked. Those like Julie and Caleb who spend hours in the kitchen and behind the counter preparing warm meals and perfect cuts. Gratitude to everyone who does this day in and day out, especially with the constant risks posed by COVID-19.”