Today Food Co-op Initiative announced grants to ten new cooperative grocery stores. An additional four co-ops will receive scholarships for board and organizer training. All fourteen awardees will bring a focus on local economy, community building, and healthy food options to their communities.
Food Co-op Initiative is a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to helping communities make their co-op vision into reality. They are the only national organization dedicated exclusively to helping startup food co-ops. Their grants, free consultations, and extensive library of educational resources have helped dozens of co-ops get their start since Food Co-op Initiative’s inception in 2010.
Among those receiving funding is Capital City Food Co-op in Juneau, Alaska. Juneau residents began organizing in May, 2012 to bring a co-op to their remote northern city, which is accessible only by boat or airplane. “People are individualistic here,” says organizer Evelyn Rousso, “But the frontier sense of looking out for one’s neighbors is also a strong bond. Not many people could identify the Rochdale Principles, but, openness to all, democracy, honest business practices, benefits to those who participate, cooperation with others, and the good of the community are all things that really do resonate here, and are reflected in many, many ways in the daily life of our city.”
Another grantee is Dorchester Community Food Co-op, located in one of Boston, Massachusetts’s largest and most diverse neighborhoods. More than just a grocery store, in the words of organizer Jenny Silverman, “Dorchester will be a community and worker-owned market and food hub that provides economic opportunity, healthy affordable food access, and education around healthy food choices.” The Dorchester Community Food Co-op hopes to be part of an network of social enterprises that reinvigorates their inner-city commercial district.
This is the second round of grants distributed by Food Co-op Initiative. In 2011, $50,000 was awarded to eight co-ops. This year, nearly $100,000 will be distributed. However, Food Co-op Initiative Executive Director Stuart Reid says the financial support is only part of the package. “More important is the one-on-one mentoring we give our grantees. Along with regular contact through email and telephone, Food Co-op Initiative development specialists will make personal visits to each startup to provide educational workshops and organizational support.”
Food Co-op Initiatives grants are funded in part by USDA Rural Development and Blooming Prairie Foundation.
Complete list of 2012 grantees:
Capital City Market Co-op, Juneau, AK
Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, Detroit, MI
Dorchester Community Food Co-op, Boston, MA
Fuquay-Varina Community Market, Fuquay-Varina, NC
Gateway Food Cooperative, St. Paul, MN
Granite City Co-op, Barre, VT
Green Top Grocery, Bloomington, IL
Hub City Co-op, Spartanburg, SC
Many Hands Food Cooperative, Binghamton, NY
Wasatch Cooperative Market, Salt Lake City, UT
Deerfield Community Co-op, Deerfield, WI
Ellensburg Food Co-op, Ellensburg, WA
Hudson Grocery Cooperative, Hudson, WI