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NCBA CLUSA Member Awards $100,000 in Grants to Organize Food Co-ops

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NCBA CLUSA member the Food Co-op Initiative (FCI) recently announced it will award Seed Grants totaling $100,000 to ten communities organizing food co-ops across the nation. Seed Grants provide valuable capital to encourage communities to invest early in feasibility and market research, financial expertise, and training. Grantees demonstrate organizational strength, commitment to proven development practices, and the potential for significant impact and success in their communities.

 

FCI is an independent, non-profit organization focused on working with community groups across the country to help them organize new retail food cooperatives as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Food Co-op Initiative Awards $100,000 in Grants

Most Competitive Year Yet, Says Director

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 10, 2013

CONTACT:      Stuart Reid, Executive Director; 507-664-2034; stuart@foodcoopinitiative.coop

DENNISON, MN – Food Co-op Initiative (FCI) today announced Seed Grants totaling $100,000 have been awarded to ten communities organizing co-ops across the U.S., to be matched with equal amounts in local investments. These grants combine a $10,000 cash award with in-kind services from the Initiative including technical assistance, on-site training, and continued mentoring. Food Co-op Initiative received 38 applications—a record high—requesting just under $380,000.

Seed Grants provide valuable capital to encourage communities to invest early in feasibility and market research, financial expertise, and training. Grantees demonstrate organizational strength, commitment to proven development practices, and the potential for significant impact and success in their communities.

“This year’s grantees have all of the essential elements we look for in a startup,” says Stuart Reid, FCI Executive Director. “They demonstrate community support, a balance of cooperative ideals with practical business requirements, commitment to best practices, and potential for retail success.“ Reid says that the caliber of applications has risen significantly over the three years FCI has offered Seed Grants, which suggests the program and the Initiative’s early support services are positively impacting food co-op development. “These co-ops epitomize what is possible with strong leadership and access to professional support and guidance.”

As for the communities receiving grants, the impact is already being felt. Among those receiving funding is BisMan Community Food Co-op in Mandan, North Dakota. BisMan organizer Heidi Demars states, “Seed Grant funds will be used to pay for business planning to ensure that our member equity is invested wisely as we work to open our store. Additionally, the in-kind services give our steering committee the professional support we need to be a more effective organizing team.”

Organizers of Manchester Food Co-op in New Hampshire, another 2013 grant recipient, envision the large-scale impact they hope to make with their food co-op. “Opening a food co-op would not just serve the purpose of providing a place to shop for groceries. It would be a community-supported anchor business, and offer a proactive way to reduce long-term healthcare costs in our community. Receiving this grant gets us one step closer to achieving our goals.”

Grantee Local Roots in Buffalo, New York echoed these sentiments. “Not only will Local Roots be a store, it will also be an education center, a community center, and an incubator for small businesses to get their start.”

This is the third round of grants distributed by Food Co-op Initiative. Grants are funded in part by USDA Rural Development and Blooming Prairie Foundation grants.

Full list of this year’s Seed Grant recipients:

  • Assabet Village Food Co-op (Maynard, MA)
  • BisMan Community Food Co-op (Mandan, ND)
  • Manchester Food Co-op (Manchester, NH)
  • Richmond Food Cooperative (Richmond, VA)
  • South Philly Food Co-op (Philadelphia, PA)
  • Baraboo Co-op (Baraboo, WI)
  • Eastwood Market & Café (Eastwood, KY)
  • Hudson Grocery Cooperative (Hudson, WI)
  • Local Roots Food Co-op (Buffalo, MN)
  • Paso Robles Food Cooperative (Paso Robles, CA)

For more information about the Seed Grant program, including program guidelines and contacts, visit one of the following pages:

Click here to view an archive of grants awarded by Food Co-op Initiative.

About Food Co-op Initiative

Food Co-op Initiative is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to helping communities transform their co-op vision into reality. As the only national organization dedicated exclusively to supporting startup food co-ops, our services enable hundreds of volunteer groups to improve healthy and local food access, build local economy, and reap the many social benefits cooperatives bring to communities. The Initiative’s grants, free consultations, and extensive library of educational resources have helped dozens of co-ops get their start since its inception in 2010.

Food Co-op Initiative was founded in response to a rising wave of interest in establishing new retail food co-ops, a surge more dramatic than any since the 1960s. Today the retail grocery industry is sophisticated and highly competitive. Co-ops thrive by being the best at satisfying their communities’ needs—through product selection, customer service, education, support for local producers, and local reinvestment.

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To schedule interviews or request photos, please contact Stuart Reid of Food Co-op Initiative at stuart@foodcoopinitiative.coop or 507-664-2034.

More information is available at: foodcoopinitiative.coop

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