About Us

Welcome to Food Co-op Initiative

Food Co-op Initiative strives to provide exceptional resources for people working to start a retail food co-op that meets the needs of their community. New startups can use our materials at no charge, and are able to reach out to our staff for phone consultations and additional technical help. During the early stages of starting a food co-op, this open access helps groups get established and incorporated, putting them on a solid path towards opening a sustainable cooperative grocery store.

Food Co-op Initiative is a 501c3 nonprofit and relies on grants and donations from the co-op community to help us provide services for new retail food co-ops. 

Our Vision

Strengthening Communities through Cooperation

Food Co-op Initiative paves the way for New Food Co-op Excellence, leading to better fed, healthier communities with local control and connections.

Our Mission 

FCI aims to increase the number, success and sustainability of new food cooperatives delivering access to healthy food in diverse communities across this country. It provides information, training and technical assistance, as well as seed capital, and engages in research, to blaze, maintain and improve the development path for new food coops.

The specific outcomes FCI works to achieve, in priority order, are these:

 Food co-op organizers will have access to:

  • Relevant information, tools, best practices and resources
  • Effective training
  • Ongoing technical advice and support
  • Peer learning
  • Sufficient grant and loan resources

 Diverse communities will be strengthened because:

  • Residents will be healthier and better fed
  • Civic engagement and empowerment will be greater
  • New jobs in democratic workplaces will pay living wages,
  • The tax base will expand
  • The prospects for future development will be improved

 Institutions that invest capital and enact public policies will have:

  • Increased understanding and appreciation for the value and impact of food co-ops
  • A greater commitment to providing resources for their development

Development Model

The 4 Cornerstones in 3 Stages Development Model was developed by Cooperative Development Services, a partner with NCB and National Cooperative Grocers Association in designing this program. All three organizations believe that the model, if followed by the applicant, will result in a greater chance for success.

4 in 3 development model graphic

The model is based upon the four cornerstones of vision, talent, capital, and systems that are each within three stages of food co-op development: organizing, feasibility and planning, and finally implementation. The four cornerstones and their three stages comprise a process for developing a cooperative retail food business. This process recognizes the need for support systems along the journey and seeks to provide assistance to approved applicants during the various stages.

See the development model in more detail »