Prairie Food Co-op Community Grocery

Crystal Echevarria

Hometown: Lombard

Owner #: 941

Why are you interested in serving on the Prairie Food Board of Directors?
I have enjoyed working with an excellent team of dedicated and passionate individuals since 2019 to open Prairie Food Co-op. We are so close to opening our store! It is important to me to bring a grocery store like PFC to our community where we can shop local products and support local farmers.

Employment: Please tell us about your Past or Present Employment 
I own Culinary Confidante (est. 2017) a plant-based culinary education business that provides culinary coaching, cooking parties and workshops. I am currently taking time away from clients to enjoy my fourth baby, who we welcomed last September. Prior to Culinary Confidante, I worked at Northern Illinois Food Bank as the Child Nutrition Programs Manager and then as the Nutrition Center Manager. I have also worked in various roles within the restaurant and hospitality industry for over 20 years.

Volunteer: Membership/Affiliations past and present
PFC Ownership & Outreach Committee: 2019-present
PFC Store Design Committee: 2023-present

Volunteer: Leadership positions held past and present
PFC Board of Directors: 2022-2024

The Co-op Preschool Board of Directors: 2022-present

Which of the following areas do you have expertise?
Management;Event Planning;Nutrition, Hospitality & Culinary Arts

What experience, education, and skills do you have that you feel will contribute to your effectiveness as a Prairie Food Director? 
During my time on the Ownership & Outreach Committee I have proven my ability to effectively organize events, network within the community and work well with the PFC team. Examples of this include the knife skills workshop, a reusable produce bag sewing workshop, the Ask a Chef series on Facebook live and the virtual Eat Well Be Well workshop. I have also held several management level positions which all required extensive critical thinking, problem solving, and strong interpersonal skills. I hold a Bachelors in Nutrition, Dietetics & Hospitality Administration as well as a Personal Chef Certificate from Kendall College

What are your personal goals for Prairie Food Co-op?
I can't wait for Prairie Food to bring local and sustainable foods to our community. Not only will it be a great place to shop but to meet friends as well. My goal is to continue to bring fun and informative culinary workshops to our community through PFC.

What experiences have you had with food co-ops in the past?
In college I frequented the Duck Soup Co-op in DeKalb. I definitely loved the bulk bins. Carob covered almonds and glad corn were my favorites! My three older children have attended the Co-op Preschool in Lombard and my fourth will go there as well when she's old enough. I love how involved the parents and the teachers are. It really feels like a community.

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