A committed group of volunteers have been working to build Prairie Food Co-op since mid-2012. It takes, on average, 5-6 years to open a food co-op and we are on track to open within that timeframe. Along the way, we have received many accolades, including a competitive $10K grant based on the strength of our organization and leadership. We recently visited our mentor co-op, Common Ground Food Co-op (CGFC) in Urbana, and were reminded of why we are doing this. Here we will share why we are working hard to open Prairie Food Co-op - a grocery store that is so much more!
Support Local Food Producers
Food co-ops do an amazing job supporting local farms! CGFC's produce department boasts 87% organic with 45 local producers. And when a co-op says "local", they mean it! Check out the photos of CGFC's price tags - the name and location of the farm where the produce was grown is listed prominently. CGFC even has photos of the farmers on display along with short bios.
Vibrant Local Community
First, Prairie Food Co-op will be a full service grocery store. But it will be so much more than just that! Co-ops are owned by members of the community and are guided by value and principle. Shopping at the co-op gives you the opportunity to vote with your dollars for the things that matter most. Co-ops give back - CGFC raised nearly $30K to support over 95 local organizations in 2015! Co-ops are more than just the best place in town to get your groceries. They are a place to participate. By owning (or simply choosing to shop at) a co-op you are playing an active role in strengthening local economy, empowering community and championing environmental responsibility.
Transparency and Education
Not only do co-ops carry an amazing variety of products, they provide a wealth of product information to help shoppers make educated decisions. We saw information packets prominently displayed on shelves and healthy recipes available (for free!) in store. The signage in the dairy department goes way beyond origin, offering details about living conditions, feed type, antibiotic use and more! Food Co-ops also offer a variety of educational classes on food and cooking - and Owners either get free or reduced admission!
Food Justice and Security
Food Co-ops have been at the forefront of food justice and security since their inception. Most food co-ops offer innovative programs aimed at making healthy food accessible to all. Common Ground Food Co-op runs a nationally recognized ‘Food For All’ program that gives individuals and families with limited income discounts and grants towards Ownership, classes, and groceries.
If you are not yet an Owner, we hope you become an Owner today to help us open Prairie Food Co-op sooner than later. With over 565 Owners, we are close to our next milestone of 600 Owners. When we reach 600 Owners, we will throw a party to celebrate and begin work on interior Store Design (with input from Owners). Don’t miss this opportunity to become an Owner BEFORE the store opens! Early Owners - those who join before opening day - are the foundation of Prairie Food Co-op!