Prairie Food Co-op Community Grocery

Katherine Nash

Prairie Food Co-op will be a different type of grocery store - one that supports local farmers, is committed to transparent product labeling so that I know how and where food is produced, and encourages sustainable and organic food production. As a co-op, Prairie Food exists to serve you instead of make a profit for others. As a co-op, the store is owned by the community and more money stays here in Lombard.

My Ownership investment helps create a grocery store that:

  • Supports Local Food Systems
  • Provides Quality Jobs here in Lombard
  • Has a Positive Economic Impact
  • Promotes Environmental Stewardship
  • Promotes Healthy & Sustainable Foods.

I cannot wait until I can shop at Prairie Food Co-op - knowing that my Ownership helped make it happen! If this all sounds great, then join me and so many others by becoming an Owner today!

 


  • published 109 South Main Update in News 2022-03-21 17:20:59 -0500

    109 South Main Update

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    Spring is here and we at PFC want to update our community on our efforts to raise the capital needed to move forward at 109 S. Main St. in Lombard. We appreciate your interest as the PFC board and volunteers work tirelessly to open our community-owned grocery store. 

     

     

    Current Situation

    Per our agreement with the site developer, Holladay Properties, our original goal was to raise a total of $4.4M by December 1, 2021 to secure 109 S. Main in Lombard. Funding to-date includes:

    • $1.67M pledged in Owner contributions 
    • $1.2M bank loan, dependent on raising the rest of the capital
    • $300K in Owner equity

    $3.2M raised is an impressive accomplishment, but as reported in previous communications and on our website, we were still $1.2M short as the December deadline approached. We requested and received an extension until March 1 to raise the remaining $1.2M needed. 
     

    Efforts at Closing the Gap

    Together, Owners of PFC have already pledged a direct investment of $1.67M of our own money for our co-op’s future, showing our deep commitment to enriching our community. We had strong reason to believe at least half of this funding gap could be met through public funds at the village, county, and/or state levels after seeing over 80% of U.S. food co-ops that have opened in the last three years receive significant funding from these sources. Many co-ops receive some municipal support in recognition of their powerful economic impact in their communities. With this knowledge, we dove into pursuing all possible options. 
     

    Village of Lombard: Requested up to $400K 

    • TIF Funding (declined) - Since the Village has long sought to bring a grocery store to downtown Lombard and 109 S. Main is located in the downtown TIF district, PFC requested $400K in upfront TIF assistance to help close our funding gap and meet the community's desire for a downtown grocer. In our discussions with the Village Board, they have shown willingness to extend performance-based incentives once PFC is open.  Unfortunately, the upfront investment is what is critical to our project at this time. The Village Board is currently opposed to creating a new policy that uses TIF assistance as upfront investment.
    • No/Low Interest Loan (declined) - The Village currently offers a Downtown Forgivable Loan program to restaurants that we hoped could be extended to PFC due to the fact that grocery stores are food centric, foster economic viability, and face unique challenges opening in a downtown area. However, the Village declined to offer PFC a loan of this type. 
    • Sales Tax Rebate Incentive (pending)
      • Trustee Anthony Puccio has committed to help PFC take advantage of the existing sales tax rebate incentive program that allows the Co-op to capture generated sales tax - up to 100%. While this doesn’t close the funding gap, it does make a significant difference in overall financial performance.
      • Village staff are investigating the possibility of using our sales tax rebate incentive as collateral for additional bank funding.

    While we appreciate the time Village Board officials spent to discuss PFC and potential options, the end result of these discussions has not helped us close our present funding gap.

    DuPage County: Requested $400K ARPA Funding (declined) 

    PFC requested $400K of the $135M American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds awarded to DuPage County. Other food co-ops have received pledges of significant ARPA funding from their local governance, but the County Board's Finance committee has so far declined our request. 

    State of Illinois: $800K Grant (pending)

    The PFC Board applied for a state-funded grant for approximately $800,000. Our grant request has been vetted and approved by grant writing professionals, but this grant is very competitive and accessing grant funds has been difficult in the past given our lack of not-for-profit status. This would clearly not make up for the full funding gap, but would be a significant addition to our finances.

    Our Most Valuable Resource - Our Owners

    Co-ops are created to meet the needs of Owners through mutual self-reliance. A central, underlying concept, Cooperative Principle 3, states that Owners themselves are the primary source of capital, and Owners share common ownership and control of the Co-op's capital. Under this principle, 30% of Owners invested or donated $1.67M - a strong financial commitment. 

    There are many other ways to help your Co-op. The PFC board and committee members are all volunteers and have donated a tremendous amount of work and time. We are always looking for more help, especially at this critical point. 

    And we would be remiss if we didn't remind you that one of the simplest ways to support Prairie Food Co-op is by becoming a PFC Owner.


    Next Steps

    The PFC Board of Directors continues to work with Holladay Properties who are willing to be flexible and work beyond the March 1st deadline, but it is important to stress that there is currently no clear path to close the $1.2M gap

    If there is a path forward at 109 S. Main, we will pursue it. If not, the PFC board is committed to opening our store at a viable location vetted by a reliable market study that predicts a strong measure of success. With over 1600 Owners, $1.67M raised, and a loan commitment from West Suburban Bank, we are in a strong position to move quickly and will continue investigating all fiscally-responsible and logistically-sound options available to us. 

    Our goal remains the same - to open a community-owned grocery store. The PFC Board of Directors takes its fiscal responsibility seriously and will only consider options that have the highest chance of success. 

    We are not the first food co-op to have challenges and setbacks in pursuit of their store site and we won’t be the last. From day one, we have been following a road map that our nationally-recognized Board of Directors has not just followed, but improved upon. There is more than one path to success, and we are closer than ever to opening the community-owned grocery store for which we’ve all been working so hard.


  • published Naming Opportunities in Community Investment 2021-12-16 09:11:31 -0600

    Naming Opportunity

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    Claim a part of PFC so our community knows how much you love your local food co-op!

    OUR store will be community owned so it’s only fitting that some of the most seen and most favorite parts of the store reflect the personality of OUR community! We're only allowing one name per area, so claim your area now before someone else does!

    We are just $400k from fully funding our store! NOW is the time to step up and help us cross the finish line. 

    Email us today at [email protected] or schedule a call with an expert Co-Operator to be a part of the legacy of Prairie Food Co-op by putting your name on a favorite part of OUR store. 

    Naming Opportunities are valid for 10 years  (terms and conditions)

    $250,000

    • Outdoor Terrace
    $200,000

    • Indoor Cafe/Classroom
    $125,000

    • Produce
    • Deli Bar
    $75,000

    • Checkout Station
    • Bulk Section
    • Beer & Wine
    $50,000

    • Dairy
    • Meat
    • Energy Efficient HVAC, Lighting, or Freezers
    $25,000

    • Bike Rack
    • Shopping Cart Corral
    • Sustainable Restrooms
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  • published Jacquelyn Casazza in Our Mission & Board 2021-06-01 11:27:40 -0500

    Jacquelyn Casazza

    • Hometown: Glen Ellyn
    • Owner #: 886
    • Term: Elected 2021. 1st term ends 2024.

    Why are you interested in serving on the Prairie Food Board of Directors?
    I have a personal passion for community connection and environmental awareness and education. I see the Prairie Food Coop as a natural intersection between these two areas, and the PFC as a place that will have positive benefits on our community, environment and local economy for years to come. I am excited about working with other passionate volunteers to make the PFC a reality.

    Employment: Please tell us about your Past or Present Employment 
    I was previously a senior manager with Deloitte Tax for over 16 years within the Global Employer Services practice. I advised clients on the tax and human resource implications of global talent deployment as well as employee experience. I also led a number of internal initiatives focused on training, mentoring, and creating a motivating, fun, and inclusive work environment for my team through events like office scavenger hunts and decathlons.

    Currently I am a consultant with Beautycounter, a safer cosmetics and personal care products company. I share information about ingredient safety so individuals can make informed decisions when purchasing a product. Additionally I advocate for stronger, more transparent regulation at the state and federal level that considers the health of consumers and the planet.

    Volunteer: Membership/Affiliations/Leadership past and present

    1. HFS Chicago Scholars; mentor and volunteer, 2005-2017, Young Professionals Board Member, 2014-2017
    2. Abraham Lincoln Elementary School PTA; Auction Fundraiser co-chair, 2018 and 2019
    3. La Escuela Cooperativa de Sayulita; current Board Member
    4. Glen Ellyn Environmental Commission; current Commissioner
    5. Glen Ellyn Park District Environmental Advisory Board; current Board member

    Which of the following areas do you have expertise?
    Management, Fundraising, Event Planning, Communications, environmental education including recycling, sustainable swaps, safer food, cosmetic and cleaning products

    What experience, education, and skills do you have that you feel will contribute to your effectiveness as a Prairie Food Director? 
    During my time at Deloitte, I worked with multiple clients around the world and even spent time working abroad, both in India and Switzerland. This taught me how to consider ways to engage and more importantly to listen to multiple perspectives throughout the life of a project. I feel strongly about making sure all stakeholders feel “bought in” and listened to, as well as transparently providing feedback. I gained an understanding of how to effectively serve clients by creatively balancing their priorities and goals with the realities of a budget and timeline in which to accomplish those. I also learned how to identify strengths of my team members, then manage and motivate the group to work collaboratively towards our goals.

    Additionally in my experience with Beautycounter as well as serving on multiple volunteer boards in Glen Ellyn, I have learned different ways to engage community members. This has ranged from creating my own facebook group with 230+ members to share environmental and clean living tips, to creating and organizing a "Trash Talk" zoom to share recycling information with friends and neighbors, to planning in person “Green Gatherings” at the Glen Ellyn Library with the Environmental Commission. I have learned and continue to learn what it takes to create and engage a community both virtually and in person. I would love to bring these skills to the PFC and make it a welcoming place to gather and exchange ideas for community members, whether online, in person or both. 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.

    What are your personal goals for Prairie Food Co-op?
    A trip to the grocery store is a part of our everyday lives, and my goal for the Prairie Food Coop is to make that grocery trip a bit more purposeful and magical! I see the PFC as a place where individuals feel connected to each other, the community, and our environment. There is a great opportunity to not only serve individuals who already value supporting local producers and socially conscious companies, but to include and educate individuals who haven’t thought about these things before when they visit a grocery store. I would also love to see the PFC as a place where the "environmentally curious" can gather to learn more about ways they can have an impact on caring for our planet. Being environmentally friendly can sometimes feel intimidating, but we will need all of us to help protect the planet. There are a number of different ways people can play a role in caring for our environment by participating in the PFC, for example, making a more environmentally friendly purchase, or learning and engaging with other community members during an online event. By bringing environmental awareness through these opportunities and others, individuals can learn about what personal impact they can have on the health of our community and planet, and share that knowledge along to family, friends and neighbors.

    What experiences have you had with cooperatives, food or otherwise?
    I currently serve on the board of La Escuela Cooperativa de Sayulita, which is a cooperative preschool based in Sayulita, Mexico. La Escuela is a Montessori-based preschool for 3-5 year olds in that offers a tuition-free education for families who participate, and has recently expanded to offer after school programs and summer programs. La Escuela Cooperativa collaborates with student families, educators and community members in its educational and community program offerings. I have advised in areas of communication and advertising, fundraising and event planning, and program planning related to gardening and composting.


  • published 2021 Elections in 2021 2021-05-16 14:59:01 -0500

    2021 Elections

    PARTICIPATE IN OUR CO-OP BOARD ELECTIONS!

    It's that time of year when we practice Co-op Principle #2 - Democratic Member Control - by electing owners to serve on our board. Owners will vote for directors to fill four (4) open board positions, and those elected will serve one to three year terms. As a startup co-op, ours is a “working board”, not simply a “governing board”. All board members serve as volunteers without compensation and they devote significant time and attention to this worthy effort.

    We are fortunate that five (5) Co-op owners have stepped forward and volunteered to serve on the Co-op board. One board candidate is an incumbent who has served at least 1 full term. We have provided a link below to photos and bios of these individuals.

    Voting will take place electronically from May 17 - May 27

    Due to the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, we will again conduct our annual owners meeting via Zoom and we encourage all owners to attend the live meeting on May 27. A recording will be available as quickly as possible.

    CANDIDATES FOR THE BOARD

    Click here to read about candidates for service on the Board of the Prairie Food Co-op.

    BYLAW REFERENDUM

    This year, Owners will vote on one (1) proposed Bylaw amendment to allow established, long serving directors to continue serving through store opening. Please see details here.

     

    VOTE NOW

     

     

     

     

     


  • published Donate 2021-02-27 02:11:11 -0600

    Donate to PFC

    Your generous donation will cover startup expenses to help us open the doors to our bright beautiful store!

    To reach our goal, we will need some to donate $20,000, $50,000, $100,000 or more. However, many hands make light work and every dollar gets us one step closer to offering local foods in a convenient one-stop shop. 

     

    Tax-Deductible Donations: 2 Options

    You can make a tax-deductible donation to Prairie Food Co-op through our fiscal sponsor, Cooperative Development Fund of CDS (Cooperative Development Services).

    Contact us if you are interested in making a tax-deductible donation of publicly traded stock.

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    Donate at GiveMN.org

    DONATE at giveMN.org

     


    Tax-deductible donations to Prairie Food Co-op can be made through our fiscal sponsor, Cooperative Development Fund of CDS. The Fund meets the requirements for a charitable and educational institution as described in Chapter 501(c)3 of the federal tax code and demonstrates compliance by filing annual financial statements (Form 990) with the IRS. The Tax ID of the Cooperative Development Fund of CDS is 39-1540529.

    We will forward your check to the Fund. Please make your check out to "Cooperative Development Fund of CDS" and do not use other organizational names such as "CDS" or "Cooperative Development Services." 

    Donations are not the same as ownership. No item of value (e.g. ownership share, voting rights, owner discount, etc.) will be provided to donors of charitable gifts.

    Donations of $200 and above will be recognized in writing by the Cooperative Development Fund. The Fund will send a written letter of acknowledgment; donors will need such letters for their records should they seek to deduct their gift on their tax returns. Donors of less than $200 have other options for supporting their claim of deductibility (typically their cancelled check) and will not receive a letter of acknowledgment.

    Donations are immediately deposited and cannot be returned. Donations made to our fiscal agent on our behalf cannot be returned once made. If the board determines the project is no longer feasible, our fiscal agent will use the donated funds to support the wise use of cooperative approaches through education and development.

    Use of funds. The mission of the Cooperative Development Fund is to support the wise use of cooperative approaches through education and development. Donations will be used to facilitate the development of our cooperative. Permitted uses include professional fees, supplies, inventory, employee payroll and benefits, building renovations and furnishings, etc., related to project development.


     

    Direct Donation (not tax-deductible)

    Direct donations to Prairie Food Co-op are NOT tax deductible.

    You can mail direct payment to Prairie Food Co-op at PO Box 83, Lombard, IL 60148

     

    Questions: Please email us at [email protected].


  • published Events 2021-02-16 09:11:55 -0600

  • Prairie Food Co-op on the front page of the Chicago Tribune!

     

    Prairie Food Co-op made the front page of the Chicago Tribune! We were featured in an excellent article about co-ops in the Chicagoland area. Board President, Kathy Nash was interviewed, and quoted, in the article. As communities struggle with the economic impact of COVID-19, “There is an outcry for a different system and way of supporting communities." Cooperatives keep money circulating in the local economy because, by law, they must either reinvest profits in the store or divide among Owners as dividends. Cooperatives exists to serve the community rather than make anyone wealthy. 

    “People can see the value of local ownership....This is a locally owned alternative to publicly traded company. They support local products and vendors, which is fundamental to the core of those businesses.” That support of local vendors and food producers has kept many local businesses afloat during a challenging time.

    Read it here. For non-subscribers, you should be able to access the article using "Reader View".


  • published About 2020-05-18 15:17:37 -0500

    About Prairie Food Co-op

    Prairie Food Co-op will be a full-service community owned grocery store in Lombard featuring local, sustainably grown, organic produce, meat and dairy products, as well as all of the other staples you'd expect from a grocery store -- dry goods, bulk foods, and frozen foods. Prairie Food Co-op will be a community gathering place where shoppers can enjoy a cup of coffee or juice while attending educational classes and workshops.

    What Will The Co-op Look Like?

    Our professional Market Analysis advised a 10,000 square foot store, with 6300 square feet of retail space. This size store makes shopping accessible and convenient and is large enough to accommodate a variety of food store departments including meat, bakery, produce, dry grocery, frozen food and dairy, as well as specialty departments such as a deli with prepared foods, a specialty drink bar, and a small café area. We also plan to establish a weekly farmer’s market in the store’s parking lot.

    Get The Facts

    Prairie Food Co-op is committed to providing honest and transparent labeling and will encourage sustainable food production and environmental stewardship. Prairie Food Co-op will strive to educate consumers about their food choices and connect shoppers with food producers so that consumers have a better understanding of how their food was produced. Prairie Food Co-op will provide great jobs with fair wages and benefits.

    Democratically-Run

    Prairie Food will be a cooperative business, meaning that shoppers will own the store, giving them more say in the products and services available at the store. Cooperatives are operated, first and foremost, for the benefit of the community they serve, Because people, not profits, drive the business, cooperatives have a significant positive impact on their local community and economy. 

    Join The Co-op!

    If you are interested in supporting local farmers, providing better year-round access to local and sustainable food, to encouraging environmental stewardship, to building a store committed to educating consumers about food, and to a store that puts shoppers first, then you should become a Prairie Food Co-op Owner today.

     


  • published Sustainability at the Co-op in News 2019-05-23 11:22:53 -0500

    Sustainability at the Co-op

    One of the core values of Prairie Food Co-op is sustainability and that carries over into the design of our grocery store. The co-op's "Green Team" is working hard to determine which sustainable design options can be implemented. As a community supported business, we rely on our community to invest in this project. The more the community invests, the more opportunity we will have to implement green design elements.

    Read more

  • published Meeting Minutes in For Owners 2016-09-13 13:51:52 -0500

    Meeting Minutes

    Owners have the right to review Board of Director meeting minutes. Please find links to meeting minutes below - our meeting minutes are organized by year and stored in Google Drive. Owners are encouraged to attend meetings of your democratically elected Board! The Board meets the first Tuesday of each month from 7pm - 9pm. We would love to see you there!

    Click Here to View All Meeting Minutes on Google Drive