Prairie Food Co-op Community Grocery

Nina Bennett


  • Hometown: Elmhurst
  • Owner #: 97
  • Term: Elected 2020. 1st term ends 2022.
  • Contact Nina

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

I am interested in serving on the Prairie Food Board of Directors because it is needed. I am at a place professionally and personally with a job that I can leave at work, and kids who are becoming more independent, and this combined with the constant catastrophes of current events, has galvanized me to search for ways that I can support the ideals I hold in a tangible way. Also, it really seems like the Prairie Food Board of Directors needs people who believe in its mission to stand up and do all that they can to help get this institution born and built!


Employment: Please tell us about your Past or Present Employment

Most of my work history has been in the non-profit sector and I have grant writing experience. Most recently before taking a decade off to raise my children, I worked helping to run recreational activities for individuals with Cerebral Palsy in New York City. Currently, I am employed as a paraprofessional in a multi needs classroom. My children are 10 and 13 years old.


Volunteer: Membership/Affiliations past and present:

I have been involved in the establishment and operation of the Elmhurst College Student Organic Community Garden since its inception in 2017. Since 2017 the Elmhurst College Student Organic Community Garden has donated over 3,000 pounds of organically grown vegetables to the Elmhurst-Yorkfield Food pantry. Additionally, the Elmhurst College Student Organic Community Garden provides a direct learning environment for the both the Education and the Biology departments, who have customized classes which take place in the garden to educate future generations of gardeners. The Elmhurst College Student Community Garden also hosts its space for the Elmhurst Learning and Success Academy, (known throughout the Elmhurst College community by the acronym "ELSA" which is a four year, post secondary certificate program for young adults with differing abilities).


Which of the following areas do you have expertise?

Management, Fundraising, Grants, Gardening


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

I have experience with fundraising, including personally raising over $20,000 from individual fellow alumni to save my Alma Mater, Antioch College. I have a degree in Cultural Anthropology and know that I can contribute to the bottom line through my fundraising and grant writing experience. I have experience in, and will be effective at, identifying potential grants to apply for, writing them, and submitting them. Grants are something I enjoy writing, so hopefully I will secure money to benefit Prairie Food Cooperatives' construction budget. I have a contagious passion for the food cooperative movement and will be able to help with not only securing funds, but vetting the core fiscal and cultural practices that embody the food cooperative movement.


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

My personal goal, and I think it is a collective goal for all of us, is to help bring Prairie Food from the drawing board to a brick and mortar facility. I can't wait to hear the peanut butter machine whirring away, and see the bulk bins stocked within a vibrant space that brings our DuPage communities together! I know that many people have worked tirelessly towards this epic goal for the last several years and I believe that it is my turn to step-up and see what needs doing after having watched from the sidelines. I want to be a part of something greater than myself in these trying times, and to me, food is power. With the right food we have the power to not only feed ourselves sustainably and responsibly in these strange times, but we have the power to help make the world a better place with a much needed cooperative economic focus. Being a garden type person, I am also passionate about supporting small and local farmers.


What experiences have you had with food co-ops in the past?

Some of my earliest memories and conceptualizations about food are centered around the various co-ops that I have known. The strange variety and fun of the bulk bins, the smell and sounds of fresh peanut butter at the peanut butter machine, and the allure on a hot day of 25 cent Blue Sky sodas. I have known food cooperatives throughout all of the decades of my life and in just about every place that I have lived. It is deeply important to me to manifest the physical and cultural spaces that these co-ops have provided for me in my lifetime and to insure that new generations of children get to grow up with the lifetime of memories that I have. It truly is a cultural legacy to me.


Between myself, my husband, grandmother and mother, we have been members of various food cooperatives since 1969! This gives me about 50 years of experience with food cooperatives in the following places: Taos, New Mexico, Ann Arbor, New Mexico, Tucson, Arizona, Middlebury, Vermont, Grass Valley, California, and Albuquerque, NM.

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