Prairie Food Co-op Community Grocery

Jeremy Nash

  • published Watch Our What's In Store Video in News 2024-02-06 22:54:12 -0600

    Watch Our What's In Store Video





    Check out this first of a kind video of an event that’s been 12 years in the making!

    On Saturday, February 3rd, 2024 PFC had the honor of showing off the future site of our store to nearly 200 PFC Owners at our PFC What’s In Store event where we led limited size groups on personal tours of our store space led by our GM Jason and architect Megan Harte. You could feel the excitement in the air as so many of our Owners came out to see the space where their beloved Prairie Food Co-op will be. In fact it struck us how special it is that so many of our Owners had such an interest in seeing a just-gutted store space to envision what PFC will be. This kind of excitement doesn't exist in the conventional grocery store world!

    And, yes, we hit another milestone. This was our FIRST ever event at OUR STORE! This is something we've dreamed about doing for literally over a decade. We admit that we got choked up a few times over the course of the event as we greeted so many of our owners and seeing the many faces of those we’ve gotten to know over the years whether they were onboard from the beginning or only recently joined the PFC family.

    We all know that there are still going to be hiccups and hurdles on our way to getting our doors open, but Saturday was a very symbolic step forward. Thank you to our Owners and our community at large. We got this!

    We also, again, owe much gratitude to proud PFC Owner and award winning videographer, James Kozar, of Apparatus Cinema for helping us memorialize the excitement, passion, and commitment of our Owners at our first on site event. We hope you enjoy this video as much as we do! 

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  • published January 2024 in GM Junction with Jason 2024-01-01 17:36:10 -0600

    January 2024

    Hello Prairie Food Co-op community!

    Welcome to my GM Junction, where I update you all on the progress being made at our site at 837 S Westmore-Meyers Road, and also some of the behind the scenes work going on.

    The new year brings us to an imminent and important milestone, and that is having the store site handed over to us by our Landlord. A year’s worth of exterior renovations has brought Eastgate Center’s north side back to life and looking fantastic! I recently visited the site and am happy to report that aside from some very minor details, the work on the exterior is just about complete, and PFC has officially taken possession.

    Promising news on the grant front, as our State Grant has reached its final stages of approval. We’re just waiting on some very important signatures and the wait will be over! The $807K grant, which was part of Governor Pritzker’s Rebuild Illinois (RBI) Downtowns and Main Streets Capital program, was awarded in 2022 and was a huge shot in the arm for PFC, allowing us to kick the dream of opening a co-op in Lombard into next gear. As reported in my previous GM Junction, the $750K Federal Grant is also in its final stages and awaiting final approval. 

    For those of you reading this who may not be familiar with co-ops, let me give you a quick rundown of who and what we are! A Cooperative is a business owned by and operated for the benefit of those using its services. Law dictates that profits generated by a Cooperative be distributed among Owners or re-invested in the business to expand products and services. There are several different types of co-ops: consumer co-ops such as Prairie Food Co-op, producer co-ops such as Organic Valley, worker co-ops such as Equal Exchange, and housing co-ops. Credit unions (maybe you belong to one!) are financial co-ops. Our next door neighbor, Ace Hardware, is the largest non-grocery retail cooperative in the United States!

    In food co-ops such as ours, you become an owner by buying two shares of the business — joining with your neighbors to provide the money that allows the co-op to exist. Your investment demonstrates that you support the mission of Prairie Food Co-op - to open a full service grocery store dedicated to strengthening our local economy and supporting local, sustainable food production. Your investment helps create a more responsible and just food system.

    Food co-ops are not a new idea or niche market. There are more than 250 food co-ops in the US that generate over $1.4 billion in annual revenue and are owned by over 1.3 million consumer Owners. Collectively, food co-ops are the third largest buyer of natural foods.

    Prairie Food Co-op is a community-owned and democratically operated grocery store dedicated to strengthening our economy and creating a marketplace for transparently labeled, local, organic and sustainable food. Not an owner yet? Visit our website at https://www.prairiefood.coop/ownership to become one!

     

    2023 was a very eventful and productive year for Prairie Foods. I would like to thank all the PFC Board Members and volunteers who have worked tirelessly to get us to this point. Special shoutouts to our architect Megan Harte and Grant Manager Edith Makra, as well. 

    Also, huge thanks and appreciation to our owners! We are almost 1800 strong! Without you there is no PFC!

    Here’s a sneak peek at the interior of our site. What’s under that tarp? Our first shipment of equipment!

     

    Thank you for taking the time to stay up-to-date on all things PFC. 


    See you in the aisles!

    Jason Krapausky
    General Manager
    Prairie Food Co-op


  • published 2023: PFC's Most Eventful Year Ever in News 2023-12-14 13:17:24 -0600

    2023: PFC's Most Eventful Year Ever

     

    As we near the end of another year, we look back at a year full of major milestones. 

    This time last year we were still uncertain if we would receive our $847K grant sponsored by Sean Casten. Just days later, the U.S. Senate pushed it through and it was signed into law a few days after.  This of course was a great relief to us, as that extra money is vital to us building our store due to continued  inflation increasing construction costs.

    As 2023 kicked in, PFC was in the process of finalizing our lease conditions at Eastgate Shopping Center, hopeful of beginning construction by summer or fall. We understood (and communicated) that this was a perfect-case scenario, dependent on both our landlord’s completion of needed renovations and upgrades to our store, as well as the State of IL, and federal government issuance of our grants. Collectively, this is a  complicated process that takes much time and vigilance. 

    Nevertheless, we remained (and still remain) excited that we signed our lease and work was moving forward. Around this time we were also working towards a very significant milestone in a food co-op’s development- the securing of a food distributor. As we have shared countless times, we will sell as much locally-produced food as possible, but we will need a food distributor who specializes in natural and organic foods to provide us with many of the dry, canned, and other goods that we can’t source locally. Imagine how excited we were when we secured an account with INFRA- a food distributor that is also a co-op that specializes in organic, and sustainably-produced food! So while we are working with our local farmers and food makers, we have another means of sourcing local food with our distributor! 

    We think this enthusiasm carried over into our participation in the Lilac Day Parade where we had fun dressing up as our favorite foods, carrying punny grocery signs, pushing grocery carts, and giving away Prairie Barry tattoos (they went fast!). And the cherry (pun intended) on top? We won FIRST prize for our category! 

    Meanwhile, another major milestone was right around the corner. We had began searching for our General Manager, one of the most consequential decisions a food co-op can make. We retained the services of a food co-op consulting firm that specializes in finding viable candidates from all over the country to fill this role. We assumed we were going to attract a GM from another part of the country (which is common practice) so imagine our delight when the most qualified candidate already lives in our neighborhood- Wheaton to be exact- and has an immense amount of experience opening and running a natural foods store!

    We welcomed Jason- our new GM- in August. Jason is from a small farming community in Illinois, was GM at multiple area Whole Foods locations, and even opened the Whole Foods in Elmhurst. We aren’t just excited that he has natural food grocery management experience, but that he has experience in OUR market.

    Jason has kept busy by meeting with  the Lombard village board of trustees, other area representatives, area business leaders, local farmers and goods producers, in addition to monitoring the progress of our store and keeping pressure on our landlord to complete the updates and upgrades needed for PFC to take possession of the store. One silver lining about our store not being ready is that we have not paid one penny in rent and will not for 8 months after our permits are approved. This is just one more way that the PFC board has protected the investment made into our store by our Owners. 

    All good things are worth waiting for! Have you seen Eastgate lately? It's a different mall with many improvements already made and many coming - Ace's Garden Center and a newly paved parking lot, to name a few.

    We hope our regular emails and social media posts have transparently communicated the efforts taken this year to open our doors.  Each challenge we overcame brought us steps closer to opening our store. We appreciate the patience our Owners and community at large have shown us thus far and urge you to stick with us over these final hurdles!  

    We have a lease, we have a our GM, we have funding from our Owners and other sources. With possession of our site on the horizon, we can provide a more definitive timeline to open. We cannot wait to shop with you next year!


  • published December 2023 in GM Junction with Jason 2023-12-14 13:11:43 -0600

    December 2023

    Hello Prairie Food Co-op community! Welcome to the GM Junction where I update you all on the progress being made at our site at 837 S Westmore-Meyers Road, and also some of the behind the scenes work going on. 

    Exterior renovations are in their final stages with the window trim (and a final overall touch up) nearing completion. The North side of the center as a whole is looking fantastic! Big news! Our architect has submitted the permit package to the Village of Lombard as well. This is a significant step toward getting our buildout started once we take possession of the site. Our hope is to have possession handed over to us from the Landlord by the end of December.

    If you are in the area take a peek at the backside of the building, where you’ll see Ace’s new Garden Center. The area between the Garden Center and our building will be refinished, repaved and dedicated to additional seating and landscaping. Programming ideas for this cozy area are being considered now, and after we open we will keep everyone in the loop as to what fun events we will have planned. Stay tuned!

    Our federal grant process continues to proceed, with final paperwork having been submitted to Housing And Urban Development (HUD) for final approval. Once we get final approval we will have access to the grant through our authorized representative, Cooperative Development Services. Our Grants Committee has worked tirelessly to finalize this process and deserve recognition! Huge appreciations to Grants Committee Chair Jess Buttimer, PFC’s Grant Manager, Edith Makra, and PFC’s Accountant, Tom Lamberty. 

    I want to take this opportunity to introduce you to our buying partner, INFRA (Independent Natural Food Retailers Association). INFRA is a purchasing cooperative comprised of independent organic and natural food and wellness retailers. Through collective buying power, operational support, and innovative marketing programs, INFRA helps member businesses thrive in step with their values and communities. Our partnership with INFRA allows PFC to pull grocery products from its main supplier at very competitive wholesale prices, which we can then pass along to our customers in the form of lower prices. You will find many natural and organic products that you are familiar with on our shelves, as well as a competitively priced organic line, CADIA, that covers all the pantry basics. INFRA has been instrumental in PFC’s pre-opening operations, providing guidance and support since we signed on back in October. Though INFRA supports hundreds of independent food retailers, PFC is only one of a handful of co-ops that INFRA has in its repertoire, so we are getting the red carpet treatment as INFRA navigates the co-op world!

    Thank you to Ace Hardware for hosting Thanksgrilling 1 and 2 this winter! Ace graciously allowed us to participate in both events, where Jim, Manager of Ace, cooked up some tasty food. It was great seeing PFC owner support right next to our site. 

    A large focus at this time is nailing down our vendor onboarding process. Our Product Sourcing Guidelines and Quality Standards are set, and during the next month I will be reaching out to the many vendors and producers who have contacted PFC in getting their product(s) in the store. I want to thank YOU for submitting YOUR ideas for potential products you’d like to see at PFC. I do have that list in hand and will be reaching out to those vendors/producers who meet our sourcing guidelines and quality standards. We are still asking potential vendors/producers to submit their information online on PFC’s website. And I still encourage anyone to submit potential products and/or vendors that would be a good fit for Prairie Food Co-op!

    Thank you for taking the time to stay up-to-date on all things PFC!

    See you in the aisles!

    Jason Krapausky
    General Manager
    Prairie Food Co-op


  • published November 2023 in GM Junction with Jason 2023-12-10 21:21:48 -0600

    November 2023

    Hello Prairie Food Co-op community! Welcome to the GM Junction for November 2023, where I update you all on the progress being made at our site at 837 S Westmore-Meyers Road, and also some of the behind the scenes work going on.

    Exterior renovations continue at our site as well as the rest of Eastgate Center. New fascia installation is complete! Painting is about 90% complete with only a few details left to follow up on. The Landlord has also completed installing the new roof, which is awaiting inspection. There has been significant progress on the exterior since my last update and we’re hoping to have this phase of construction finished by the end of the year.

    We continue to work with a local sign company to nail down our final storefront sign design. Much thought has been put into this process so PFC can properly stand out with a warm and welcoming sign that will make Lombard residents proud. Once we have approved a final design we will share a rendering with you all!

    Wondering where all of our equipment is located? Though we still have some equipment to secure, a large portion is already purchased and being stored off-site with our equipment vendors. Huge thanks to them for allowing us to utilize their spaces. I have also recently secured space locally to help store additional equipment and supplies (think shopping carts, cafe tables and chairs, etc).

    Our interior store design process is gaining traction and close to being finalized. Our excellent site architect, Megan with 845 Design Group, has shared a few 3D renderings of the interior, please see pictures below! Very exciting to see the space come alive!

     

    We have recently achieved a huge milestone in regards to our federal grant and have moved onto the next phase, which is finalizing disbursement details and getting the grant money flowing! Securing grant money is a very complicated process that takes the knowledge and patience of many professionals, who all have to work in sync with each other. Many of these professionals are PFC volunteers with full-time careers, and I can’t thank them enough for their efforts. You’ll learn who these rockstars are soon!

    I recently attended a Container and Indoor Gardening workshop at Barn Owl in Carol Stream, who collaborated with The GardenWorks Project out of Wheaton. In attendance was Teri Wood, Executive Director of The GardenWorks Project, who recently became a Prairie Food Co-op owner! Check out The GardenWorks Project, an incredible organization whose mission is to promote organic suburban agriculture to improve the well-being of our community, the environment, and those facing food insecurity. Great to see you Teri, and thank you for becoming a PFC Owner!

    On Saturday, November 18th, from 11 a.m - 2 p.m, we will be participating in Ace Hardware’s ThanksGrilling Event, located in the Eastgate Center parking lot at 837 S Westmore - Meyers Road in Lombard. Please stop by, enjoy some food and say hello! PFC staff, including myself, will be onsite.

    And as promised, here are a few (very preliminary) 3D renderings of our interior:

    Aren't these exciting! Thank you for taking the time to stay up-to-date on all things PFC. 

    See you in the aisles!

     

    Jason Krapausky

    General Manager

    Prairie Food Co-op


  • published GM Junction with Jason in Our Store 2023-10-19 01:10:55 -0500

    GM Junction with Jason

    January 2024
    Posted by · January 01, 2024 5:36 PM

    December 2023
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    November 2023
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  • published October 2023 in GM Junction with Jason 2023-10-18 23:01:35 -0500

    October 2023

    Hello Prairie Food Co-op community! Welcome to my first newsletter, where I update you all on the progress being made at our site at 837 S Westmore-Meyers Road, and also some of the behind the scenes work going on. 

    Our site, and the Eastgate Center as a whole, is in the middle of its exterior renovation. Much, if not all, of the old fascia on the north end has been removed and replaced with a gorgeous brick. If you’re not aware, the DMV on the south side of the plaza is moving right next door. We are very excited about our new neighbor to the west! Speaking of neighbors, PFC would like to thank our neighbor to the east, ACE Hardware, for being so welcoming. (Stay tuned for fun, collaborative events hosted by ACE and PFC coming in the near future!)

    Behind the scenes, there are many volunteers working diligently to secure our grant money so that it's cleared for us to use. This is an intensive task that requires many hours of work and dedication. Once landlord renovations are complete and grant money is cleared for use, we can begin building out the inside of our grocery store. We are also currently working on our storefront signage. The initial design is big and beautiful!

    In the next few weeks I will be securing more equipment and fixtures for the store, as well as reaching out to all the wonderful vendors/producers who have shown interest in being a part of PFC. As these vendors come on board I will be highlighting them in future newsletters. If you know of anyone who may be interested in being a vendor for our store, and is passionate about local, organic and sustainable products, please direct them to this link: https://www.prairiefood.coop/vendor_application 

     

    I’ll be hopping around the Lombard area in an effort to meet as many owners and community leaders as possible. Please say "hi" if you see me!

    Speaking of owners, thank you Amy Burns for being an early PFC Owner! Number 69 to be exact. She helped me secure a library card for PFC at Helen Plum Library!

    I can't wait to meet more PFC Owners in the coming months! 

    See you all in the aisles soon.

    Jason Krapausky
    PFC General Manager


  • published Meet PFC's General Manager! in Meet PFC's Store Team! 2023-08-28 21:11:23 -0500

    Meet PFC's General Manager!

    We have some thrilling news to share with all of you! Some of you may have already heard the buzz, or even met him when he attended the Saving Monarchs Garden Party undercover. Or maybe you caught him while he was covert shadowing our O&O committee members at a recent farmers market. 

    If you haven't, however, we're excited to introduce you to Prairie Food Co-op's first-ever General Manager....Jason Krapausky! 

    With over 25 years of experience in the food industry- including a remarkable background in retail operations management, sales, and team leadership- Jason is set to steer PFC into an exciting new chapter of growth and community engagement.


    A Leader with a Shared Vision

    Jason's journey has been nothing short of inspiring. His extensive career includes a long tenure at Whole Foods Market, where he showcased extraordinary leadership and operational prowess. Notably, he was the General Manager for the Elmhurst Whole Foods store during and after their opening where he gained valuable experience in business planning, sales forecasting, and customer hospitality. Jason's expertise in these areas (especially opening a grocery store) will be of great value as we open OUR store over the next year. 

    We're not just welcoming a General Manager; we're embracing a partner who shares our vision of creating a vibrant, community-owned grocery store. Jason's experience fostering strong connections within the community and passion for sustainably- and ethically-produced, transparently-labeled food align perfectly with our mission.


    A Bright Future Awaits

    This is a monumental leap forward for Prairie Food Co-op. Along with securing our site at Eastgate Shopping Center in Lombard, this is THE BIGGEST AND MOST CONSEQUENTIAL milestone we will reach before store opening. With Jason at the helm, we're moving closer than ever to the day when our doors will open, inviting you all to shop in our beautiful, vibrant grocery store.

    We're closer than ever to seeing our store become a reality, and proud that it's part of a state- and federally-recognized project that revitalizes the entire Eastgate Shopping Center and promises to be a bustling community hub.

    Stay tuned for more news and come out to see us at one of the many upcoming events and farmers markets we'll be at in the near future. 

    And if you're not yet, consider joining the nearly 1800 of your friends and neighbors by becoming a founding PFC Owner TODAY


  • published PFC Progress Update in News 2023-08-17 23:27:35 -0500

    PFC Progress Update

    It's heartwarming to share our journey towards bringing the Prairie Food Co-Op to life in Lombard. Over a decade of dedication and hard work has fueled our mission to create a community-owned haven for all things local and sustainable.

    As much as we'd love to give you an exact opening date, we're moving forward with bright optimism, and we're looking at sometime in 2024.

    Opening a store that embodies our values and relies on grants and budgeting comes with its complexities. Here's an update on the key milestones that need to be in place before we start construction:
     

    1. Landlord Work - The Landlord at Eastgate (the shopping center where our store is located) needs to complete renovations as agreed to per our lease. The Landlord began this work this past January, but as with all construction projects, major delays have been encountered and we do not know when the LL will have their work complete

    2. Grant Guidelines - State and Federal grant funds have strict requirements that need to be adhered to. At present, the State grant, announced Spring 2022, is far behind schedule. As such, PFC does not yet have clear procurement or other guidelines that must be understood before construction can begin. We cannot risk losing our grant funding by moving forward without also being in compliance with all grant requirements. The Federal grant is moving forward nicely. Both grants have stringent requirements that must be met before any work can be started. (as an aside, we would like to take a moment to publicly thank Keith Steiskal, Director of Building and Code Enforcement with the Village of Lombard. Keith has gone far above and beyond helping PFC to complete a Federally required Environmental Review. This is not something the Village has ever done, and it’s a big undertaking. We are very grateful to Keith, and the Village in general, for being so helpful)

    3. Permitting and Budgeting - Related to the above points, the permitting and budget process has been delayed due to the lack of State guidance for grant compliance. Construction budget is similarly delayed as our construction manager needs to know the procurement guidelines for both grants before hiring contractors. PFC committed to using Union labor and while we will fulfill that internal requirement, we do not yet know what other requirements may be imposed (i.e. % of contractor businesses must be women or minority owned, etc). We are hopeful that permits and budgets will be complete in August.

    4. Permit Approvals - Once our permits are submitted, the Village will need time to review and approve our proposed work. Our store design team has been working closely with the Village on our construction and design plans so we don’t expect any surprises. Generally, it takes between 6-8 weeks for permit approval.

    5. Equipment - Turning an empty space into a grocery store requires A LOT of (expensive) equipment. Additionally, PFC is replacing outdated electrical panels and HVAC systems that will meet the more-intensive needs of a grocery store. While most equipment has been ordered, we cannot order HVAC and electric panels until permits are complete. Supply chain issues continue to be problematic for some equipment - namely, HVAC and electric panels. Although we don’t expect equipment delays to impact our project timeline, we thought it was important to convey this point for full transparency.


    Once these important, foundational steps are accomplished, construction begins! Though we can't pinpoint an exact start date just yet, our construction manager estimates a 3-4 month period of time.

    Your excitement is our driving force. We share your enthusiasm for our community-owned store, and are grateful for your patience. Together, we're weaving a vibrant tapestry that champions local farmers, nurtures our community, and more!

    Stay tuned for exciting updates and events that give you a glimpse of the unique shopping experience at our store. Remember, Prairie Food Co-op is for everyone. Anyone and everyone can shop at our store, but PFC Owners get perks!

    If you're not already, consider becoming a PFC Owner TODAY! 


  • published Meet PFC's Construction Team! in Meet PFC's Store Team! 2023-08-01 22:22:36 -0500

    Meet PFC's Construction Team!

    We are excited to announce that Prairie Food Co-op has hired W.B. Olson to oversee the construction of our store!

    W.B. Olson is a Chicagoland company with decades of experience in DuPage county (yes we're following our LOCAL principles on this as well!). PFC’s Store Development team interviewed several construction management firms and W.B. Olson stood out for their expertise in hiring contractors that meet stringent State and Federal grant requirements which will be a big help to us as we need access to the grant funds as we build OUR store! 

    State and Federal grants normally require competitive bidding, hiring a minimum percent of women/minority owned businesses, and paying prevailing wage and W.B. Olsen's experience meeting these guidelines will be a huge asset for PFC. In fact, W.B. Olson’s support of Union labor put them over the top. Believe it or not, not all construction managers were open to PFC’s commitment to use Union labor whenever possible.

    Keep a look out for open houses as we move forward building our store to meet our construction team, our architect, and maybe other upcoming hires to ask questions and see progress as we prepare to open OUR dream grocery store! 


  • published Meet PFC's Architect! in Meet PFC's Store Team! 2023-07-17 17:07:10 -0500

    Meet PFC's Architect!

     

    Prairie Food Co-op has always been fortunate to have talented volunteers contributing to this project from the very beginning. One of our very first volunteers, Megan Harte, was an early Ownership and Outreach (O&O) member and was a significant part of our planning and executing of Harvest Fest- a mini-festival that celebrated local foods (like locally ground sausage from Walnut Acres, local cider, local popcorn, local corn, and locally brewed beer and wine) that PFC and the Lombard Historical Society partnered on in 2013! 

    Megan also happens to be a super talented architect and we are thrilled to announce that PFC has hired Megan's architecture firm, 845 Design Group, to serve as our main architect of Prairie Food Co-op! In that role, Megan oversees the design and development of our store. PFC is very lucky to have Megan’s talent and support leading this phase of the project. Megan has been instrumental in helping to keep costs down, diligent project planning and management so that inevitable unforeseen issues don’t delay the project, and connecting PFC to many valuable industry resources that are helpful to building our store. We also love that she's a longtime Lombardian and just another example of PFC keeping it LOCAL! 

    Thank you Megan for all you have done, and continue to do, for our store!


  • published Meet PFC's Store Team! in Our Store 2023-07-17 14:28:24 -0500

    Meet PFC's Store Team!

    Meet PFC's General Manager!
    Posted by · August 28, 2023 9:11 PM

    Meet PFC's Construction Team!
    Posted by · August 01, 2023 10:22 PM

    Meet PFC's Architect!
    Posted by · July 17, 2023 5:07 PM

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  • published Join the PFC Social Media Team! in Get Involved 2023-06-27 17:37:02 -0500

    Join the PFC Social Media Team!

    If you follow PFC on social, you know it plays a crucial role in connecting with our members and the broader community. We believe that social media is an incredible tool for sharing our Co-Op's story, values, and all the amazing things we have to offer. By volunteering with our team, you can be an integral part of this effort and help us cultivate an online presence that truly reflects the heart and soul of Prairie Food Co-Op.

    Here's a glimpse of what you'll be doing as a member of PFC's Social Media Team:

    1. Content Calendar Management: Collaborate with other team members to create and maintain a content calendar for our Facebook and Instagram platforms. Your input will help ensure that our posts are engaging, timely, and aligned with our goals.

    2. Content Creation: Put your creativity to work by brainstorming and generating fresh content ideas that resonate with our community. You'll have the opportunity to write compelling posts, craft captivating captions, and create visually appealing graphics to accompany our messages.

    3. Engage and Interact: Engaging with our online community is key! You'll have the chance to respond to comments, initiate conversations, and build meaningful connections with our followers. By fostering an inclusive and welcoming environment, you'll help us strengthen our relationship with existing members and attract new ones.

    4. Spread the Co-Op Love: As a passionate Prairie Food Co-Op owner, you have a unique perspective and personal connection to our mission. By sharing your experiences, stories, and enthusiasm, you can inspire others to join our cooperative movement and support local, sustainable, and ethical food.

    5. Learn and Grow: Volunteering on our Social Media Team is not only an opportunity to contribute to a cause you believe in; it's also a chance to develop valuable skills in content creation, social media management, and community engagement. You'll gain hands-on experience that can benefit you both personally and professionally.

    If any of the above describes and/or appeals to you, and you're interested in volunteering, please email [email protected] letting us know you're interested with just a few sentences letting us know a little bit about yourself! Don't worry we don't need a resume or work history, just an eagerness to help out and maybe just a little social media savvy. :) 


  • published Become A PFC Owner in Become A PFC Owner! 2023-04-12 11:08:56 -0500

  • published The $750K Rep. Sean Casten Grant is Now OFFICIAL! in News 2023-01-04 19:30:33 -0600

    The $750K Rep. Sean Casten Grant is Now OFFICIAL!


    We are starting the year on a high note by announcing that we have OFFICIALLY been awarded the $750K grant secured by Rep. Sean Casten earlier in the year! The grant was passed in a year-end funding bill and signed by the President (wow!) last week. This is in addition to the $807K grant we received last summer from the state of Illinois.

    We want to expressly thank Rep. Sean Casten for recognizing the immense benefits that Prairie Food Co-op will bring to our community. He advocated for PFC by approving the grant we submitted last year and including it in his funding requests for the year-end appropriations bill. 

    We are especially grateful because this grant was extremely competitive. Prairie Food Co-op was selected due to our strong prospect for success and diligent financial and business planning. 

    WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR PRAIRIE FOOD CO-OP?


    This is significant news that puts us in a strong financial position to commit to a site and begin building OUR community grocery store. In fact we are on the verge of sharing some very significant news to our community in just a few weeks!

    However, we want to make it clear that the Prairie Food Co-op board is ever-striving to put our co-op on as solid financial foundation as possible and we will continue to seek funding opportunities through county, state and federal grants as well as more financial support from our village through grants, tax incentives, and other opportunities. 

    Since the COVID pandemic, opening and operating a business has become increasingly challenging. Equipment delays or unavailability due to lingering supply chain issues coupled with massive increases in the cost of equipment, construction, and labor is the current reality not only for PFC, but all businesses operating in a post-pandemic economy. Thus the PFC board continues to be diligent about our finances and planning. As such, we will continue to look for ways to reduce upfront costs to ensure long-lasting financial success.

    Our goal is for Prairie Food Co-op to serve the community for decades to come; providing good jobs, a community gathering place, and to accomplish our mission to provide a marketplace to local farmers and food producers.

    It’s about to happen. Stay tuned for some exciting news we’ll be sharing at the end of January.
     

    Celebrate This Great News By Becoming a PFC Owner Today!

    Prairie Food Co-op Ownership is just a ONE-TIME $200 fee for which you will receive perks and discounts when PFC is open and the right to run for the board and vote for the board. But there is so much more that your Ownership does!

    This is your chance to help fund the store that will:

    • Expand access to safe, healthy, and sustainable foods that are transparently labeled, ethically sourced, and accessible to all
    • Support 150+ local farmers & food producers
    • Encourage sustainable practices to reduce energy consumption, pollution, contamination and our carbon footprint
    • Create more than 35 local jobs that pay fair wages
    • Capture $5M that would otherwise leave our county or state
    • Generate $8M in local economic activity annually

  • published The Journey To Opening Our Store in News 2023-01-02 14:07:29 -0600

    The Journey To Opening Our Store

     

    One of the topics most often brought up in conversations with PFC Owners and other community members is the location of our store, and the process behind this major milestone in our journey to opening.

    Much has happened behind the scenes in the time leading up to the site search, during the search itself and upon identifying a location of interest. So we're taking this opportunity to share some insight into our progress so far, as well as update you on what's left to be done. We will be diving into detail on each of these steps over the next few newsletters, so make sure you're coming back for more! 


    Recruited 1600+ Owners (and Growing!)

    The first step that every food co-op must take in their pathway to opening a community-owned grocery store is to establish community support. Just over 10 years ago, this is what the PFC founders did by putting out the word on social media, attending local farmers markets, and holding an initial organizing meeting. This meeting, along with continued outreach, produced the first wave of support which resulted in a fully seated board, and early iterations of the Outreach and Finance committees, and resulted in over 100 PFC Owners in one month when we first offered Ownership shares. 

    This "first wave" of PFC supporters recruited their friends and family, placed PFC yard signs that recruited still others, and spread the PFC word through word of mouth. The PFC Ownership and Outreach committee (the O&O) planned and partnered with others to host events to establish PFC in the community and meet even more likeminded individuals. Volunteers represented PFC at local farmer's markets and events hosted by organizations with similar values, and worked on keeping our connections updated via social media posts while growing our newsletter list.  Over time, we've found ourselves where we're at current day - nearing 1700 PFC Owners! 

    Join Your Friends and Neighbors by Becoming a PFC Owner Today!
    This strong community support has been vital in our past success and, like all other food co-ops, we will always be recruiting new Owners to insure OUR store represents ALL of our community into the future! 

     

    Raised $3.2 Million from our Community

    It's expensive to open a full-service grocery store in DuPage County, especially now with current construction and equipment costs, as well as significant delays and supply chain issues. To be sure that we have more than enough capital to open our store and sustain ourselves until profitability, our Community Investment Program (CIP) committee was tasked with calling on our Owners to further invest in their commitments to our store.

    Our CIP call team spent thousands of hours reach out to PFC Owners and community organizations to raise enough capital to fund the securing of a site and the building of OUR store. Through various-levels of investment, we were able to secure over $3.2M towards this goal. We may not have hit our original goal, but we raised an impressive amount that will set us up for success at a store site that meets PFC's  criteria for success!

    Identified Viable Sites Across Lombard & Surrounding Communities


    We've received a lot of ideas from the community about sites we should consider for the future location of PFC (and we've talked about why some of these would or wouldn't work). There are a lot of prerequisites that a site must check off the list before we can seriously consider it for the permanent home of Prairie Food Co-op. Our Site Search committee and PFC Board have taken all of these and more into consideration while evaluating a number of sites in Lombard and the surrounding area.

    To set PFC up for the maximum potential for success, PFC has commissioned over 5 market studies conducted by industry professionals to help access viability of a handful of potential sites. In addition, PFC volunteers and board members have attended hundreds of meetings working with area landlords, real estate agents, brokers, architects, attorneys, and industry consultants to identify viable sites for OUR community owned grocery store- including the very one we hope to be calling home! (Stay tuned for an exciting announcement!)
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    Completed Multiple Market Studies

    When choosing a location for a full-service, community-owned grocery store, it was imperative to the Board and Site Search Committee that we choose a site that would best position us for sustained, long-term growth.

    As we attracted more community buy-in through PFC Ownership, thus proving community support, our next step was to test markety viability. Over the last 4 years we have commissioned four separate market studies with multiple food co-op consulting firms that specialize in market viability studes. These studies identified Lombard, Glen Ellyn, Villa Park, Elmhurst and Downers Grove as our main market in addition to defining major criteria our store site must meet in order to insure the best chance of success:
    • located on or near major thoroughfares 
    • 6500 - 10,000 total square feet
    • easy ingress and egress
    • developed within the calculated costs per our financial pro forma
    • surrounded by plenty of parking
    Armed with this information, we are better positioned to select a site that fits our needs now - and also allows us to grow and adapt to our community's needs in the future!
     

    Completed Owner Site Selection Survey


    Over this past summer we conducted a survey in which we asked our Owners a series of questions related to the future home of our store. 659 members participated and the responses and notes provided valuable feedback that helped focus our search efforts. While we know that a signifigant majority of PFC Owners live in Lombard, we wanted to evaluate the interest level of our Owners regarding other potential store sites in neighboring villages.

    We also learned valuable information about our Owners' grocery shopping habits, and whether or not things like accessibility by bike are important when it comes to our store's location (it really wasn't!). 

    From day one we have prided ourselves with not just our transparency, but our commitment to listening to our community of Owners. With those goals in mind, we took all of the input and feedback to heart and promise that it was put to good use!
     

    Rewarded $807k Grant by State of IL 


    At the end of August, we received news that we were awarded a $807,000 grant as part of the Rebuild Illinois (RBI) Downtowns and Main Streets Capital program. This grant is part of a larger initiative by Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), in which $106 million in capital grants was awarded to 50 commercial corridors across the state. Awardees of this grant are taking part in revitalizing and growing their local communities and downtown areas, and this is the state's way of recognizing those efforts. 

    This grant was VERY competitive, so we were very honored to be selected! This grant money puts us in a much stronger position to move quickly on the site that meets our criteria for success. Due to the current state of the market, supply chain issues and overall inflation, every dollar of assistance we can procure will make a huge difference in our overall costs!

    You can read more about the grant here.

    To Be Continuted 

    Check back in with us in a few weeks when we will talk about the last 4 remaining steps we need to take to open our storeand maybe be able to provide an update to our site announcement timeline!

     

    Become a PFC Owner Today!

     

    Regardless of whether or not you decide to become an Owner, everyone in our community is welcome to shop at our store when we're open. That being said, the success of Prairie Food Co-op relies on as many community members stepping up to become PFC Owners as is possible.

    For a one-time $200 buy-in, you will receive certain perks and discounts while supporting as many local farmers, food producers, and small, family owned businesses as possible.

    Yes, we will be a full service grocery store - but we will be so much more.! Our co-op will be a destination for our community to gather, and we hope you opt to join our nearly 1700 community members in PFC membership!

     

    And if you're not on our newsletter list yet, sign up today! 

     

     

     

     

     

     


  • published PFC Receives $807K Grant! in News 2022-08-23 00:31:50 -0500

    PFC Receives $807K Grant!

     

    We have some exciting news to share! Prairie Food Co-op has been awarded a $807,000 grant as part of the Rebuild Illinois (RBI) Downtowns and Main Streets Capital program. This grant is part of a larger initiative by Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), in which $106 million in capital grants was awarded to 50 commercial corridors across the state. This grant was VERY competitive, so it is an extra honor that PFC was selected!

    What is this grant?
    This is NOT the potential federal grant sponsored by Congressman Casten (see below) that we may receive at the end of the year. This grant, the RBI Downtowns and Main Streets Capital Program, is designed to support local commercial corridors, with concentrations of businesses that experienced difficulties during the pandemic due to declining foot traffic, tourism, and business from downtown offices. The program drives investment in infrastructure and public amenities to fuel economic activity as more Illinoisans visit their local business districts.

    What does this mean for our store?
    This grant money will put us in a much stronger position to move quickly on a site that meets our criteria for success. (Catch up on our latest update on our site location search.)

    While we missed out on the 109 S. Main St. opportunity, we are investigating other sites that we think will perform just as well, if not better, than 109 S. Main. This money will help us secure a site in our community when the opportunity arises, and offset or eliminate the need of any future capital-raising campaigns!

    So, what's next?
    Prairie Food Co-op is ALSO in contention for a $847,000 grant, submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Sean Casten. From Rep. Casten’s website, “$847,000 in funding would be used to fill the funding gap for the Prairie Food Co-op. This project will revitalize the economy, support the growth of local microbusinesses, and create $1.5 million in revenues for local agriculture and local food businesses. This capital investment will construct and equip DuPage County’s first community owned grocery, which will fulfill the objectives of the committee by: - creating 50-80 living wage jobs with opportunities for advancement and comprehensive - benefits, - creating steady income streams for over 300 local urban, suburban and rural Illinois farmers and producers - generating $13M in economic activity, and - stimulating the creation of 8-12 micro-businesses.” (Read more about this opportunity.)

    We Got This
    We're very excited to see what the future holds for our community-owned store, and are grateful for the support we've received at the state level thus far. We feel confident in where we are, and believe in our mission and in you, our Owners. Together, we got this!

     

    If You Haven't Joined the PFC Family Yet, Celebrate This Great News By Becoming a PFC Owner Today!

    Prairie Food Co-op Ownership is just a ONE-TIME $200 fee for which you will receive perks and discounts when PFC is open and the right to run for the board and vote for the board. But there is so much more that your Ownership does!

    This is your chance to help fund the store that will:

    • Expand access to safe, healthy, and sustainable foods that are transparently labeled, ethically sourced, and accessible to all
    • Support 150+ local farmers & food producers
    • Encourage sustainable practices to reduce energy consumption, pollution, contamination and our carbon footprint
    • Create more than 35 local jobs that pay fair wages
    • Capture $5M that would otherwise leave our county or state
    • Generate $8M in local economic activity annually

     

    Become A PFC Owner TODAY

     

     


  • published Leslee Keri in PFC Board Candidates 2023 2022-04-07 11:28:47 -0500

    Leslee Keri

    • Hometown: Lombard
    • Owner Number 1083
    • Term: Elected 2023 

    "If re-elected, I will continue to collaborate with our talented Board, representing our owners' interests, as we open our grocery store. I will support the Co-op's efforts to increase Ownership, strengthen our community, and serve as a model co-op for others."

    Why are you interested in serving on the Prairie Food Board of Directors?

    If re-elected, I will continue to collaborate with our talented Board, representing our owners' interests, as we open our grocery store. I will support the Co-op's efforts to increase Ownership, strengthen our community, and serve as a model co-op for others. 

    Employment: Please tell us about your past or present employment

    For the past 15 years, I have worked at OMSNIC, a medical malpractice insurance company for oral surgeons in Schaumburg. In that time, my role has included event planning, educational program development, and marketing efforts. Currently, I am the Director of our Patient Safety and Risk Management Department where I am responsible for making strategic decisions related to the development of educational resources that align with and further the overall goals of the Company.

    Volunteer: Membership/Affiliation/Leadership Past and Present:

    I began volunteering with PFC in February 2020. I had the opportunity to call many of my fellow owners as part of the Spring and Fall Community Investment Program and helped to raise nearly $50K for our co-op. I am currently the Vice President of the Board and a member of the Communications Team and  Ownership and Outreach Committee (O&O), contributing to social media posts, newsletters, graphic design, and events.

     

    Which of the following areas do you have expertise?

    Management, Marketing/Public Relations, Event Planning, Communications

     

    What experience, education, and skills do you have that you feel will contribute to your effectiveness as a Prairie Food Director?

    I believe my involvement with the O&O team has really allowed me to internalize the voice and mission of our co-op. In this past year on the Board, I was elected by fellow Board members to serve as Vice President, and look forward to assuming the role of President next year if I am re-elected. As Vice President, I have led the efforts to identify organizations for PFC to partner with to ensure we have collective buying power for store staples to ensure we can offer goods at reasonable prices. This is important, not only for the success of our store, but to ensure that our store is accessible for all members of our community. I have experience leading a diverse team - and the PFC Board is similar in that we each have our own strengths and bring value to our operations. As a collaborative team player who is comfortable making informed, strategic decisions, I look forward to leading the Board as we open our store and begin to transition responsibilities to our General Manager. 

     

    What are your personal goals for Prairie Food Co-op?

    Short term, I will continue to collaboratively work with our Board and represent our owners' interests as we work towards the opening of our grocery store. It is important for the Board to make informed decisions to ensure long term success for our store. Those decisions should include direction from co-op recognized advisors as well as the input of our Owners. Long term, I hope the Co-op will expand our Ownership, support local farmers/food producers, become an economic multiplier for our community and a model co-op for others in the surrounding areas.

     

    What experience (if any) have you had with cooperatives, food or otherwise?

    Prairie Food is my first Co-op experience. In the past year, I have had the opportunity to meet and learn from other Board members affiliated with other co-ops which has been very fulfilling. Otherwise, my food experience is limited to love of it- especially great tasting meats and veggies.


  • published Gerry Haptas in PFC Board Candidates 2022 2022-04-07 11:28:08 -0500

    PFC Board Candidate - Gerry Haptas

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    "Prairie Food Coop is good for the community, owners, producers, suppliers and customers. This is meaningful to me & that’s the WIN team I am signing up for. I look forward to meeting you in the store!"
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    Owner Number 791
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    Why are you interested in serving on the Prairie Food Board of Directors? 
    This is an exciting time in the co-op establishment and development. I feel I can make a positive impact achieving the current and upcoming PFC goals towards opening the store and beyond. I enjoy being involved and making things happen.
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    Employment: Please tell us about your past or present employment 
    I have been in management and leadership roles in IT, Consulting and Sales. This includes 15 years with Jewel Food Stores, 14 years with a Direct Marketing company, and 8 years with AT&T, 5 of which were selling to a local government entity, the City of Chicago, and, 4 years with a consulting company. I retired in November of 2017.
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    Which of the following areas do you have expertise?
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    Volunteer: Membership/Affiliation/Leadership Past and Present:
    I currently serve as Secretary on the Prairie Food Co-op board. I currently volunteer with a therapeutic horseback riding program with Ray Graham Association. I served on our local parochial school board which included roles as Secretary and Vice-President. I was also the representative to the affiliate organizations mentioned below. I was involved with the Lombard Park District in several capacities. I was the head coach for the Lombard Dive Team for 10 years. I was also the basketball coach for a co-ed high school team for 5 years. I was a head coach at a local parochial grade school for about 10 years for the following sports: track, cross country, volleyball, and, basketball. For 2 years I was a youth mentor with a middle school program which ended with covid remote learning restrictions.
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    What experience, education, and skills do you have that you feel will contribute to your effectiveness as a Prairie Food Director? 
    My career has been working with people to help overcome the barriers preventing their progress. This involves listening, planning, consensus, execution and monitoring while communicating and adjusting with all stake/shareholders as necessary. I have collaborated with others to accomplish this in the past and I believe PFC will benefit with these skills and those noted in the expertise response above. I have always been prepared to dig in as far as necessary to get things done.
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    What are your personal goals for Prairie Food Co-op?
    To be a part of the team that leads PFC to be successful and exceed its goals. I have been a Lombard downtown-area resident for over 40 years and cherish the thought of opening a community-owned grocery store in Lombard.
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    What experience (if any) have you had with cooperatives, food or otherwise?
    I serve on the Prairie Food Co-op board first as an interim director for a year and subsequently served my first 3-year term on the board, recently as Secretary. I am now running for my 2nd board term. I did not have prior co-op experience but have gained knowledge and experience in many facets. I am the governance committee chair and and worked diligently to ensure accuracy and completeness processing the payments of our CIP phases. These are just building blocks as we now head into our straightaway sprint.
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    Back to Candidate Page

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  • published Ask an Expert in Community Investment 2021-04-09 01:42:23 -0500

    Ask an Expert

    Schedule a time for one of our warm, friendly Co-operators to call and talk about Prairie Food Co-op with you.