As President of our budding food co-op, I have the joy of helping to plant the roots of connection with other like-minded folks and groups in town, watering those connections with love for our vision of great food locally sourced, accessible to all, and as affordable as possible in a beautiful store that is warm and welcoming, and owned by our community where everyone can shop and anyone can become an owner.
I have recently met many folks who care about food justice, security and access at a two day workshop called, “From Charity to Solidarity.” The room was filled with people working hard to alleviate hunger in our area through food pantries, food banks, food trucks, food backpacks and education. We envisioned the future of Grand Rapids and saw a strong community of walkable neighborhoods with great food easily accessible. I was gratified to see my vision resonate with everyone else in that room. The idea of a food co-op where we are all co-owners of our food store also resonated with folks in that room. We left that workshop ready to move into action to make our visions reality.
So how does our project help move our community away from charity addressing food insecurity to solidarity with those who experience hunger? A food co-op is owned by anyone in our community who wants to join us. If you are low income, we have a Food for All share of $25 for every low income owner household and a robust scholarship fund for anyone who needs to use it. We trust our owners and don’t ask for verification of income. Our co-op includes everyone as equal owners and contributors to building our store. We are constantly growing our connections with communities of color and exploring together the ways our store can meet their needs and welcoming them as co-owners of our store. Each one of us has the same equal vote.
We have done all we can to break down any financial barriers and our task now is to come together to actually own that vision and buy our shares in this food co-op and bring our voice to the table so our vision will become a reality. Your community owned food co-op will open sooner if you, who see the vision and want it to become reality, move in concrete ways to build up our root system of support. Become a fellow owner, encourage your friends to become fellow owners, and then spend a little volunteer time working on the project with the other great folks who share your vision.
Imagine the benefits to our community that our food co-op will bring. Our local food system will be supported, nourished and strengthened. Our community will be more connected and empowered to make needed changes. Your home will have great food and you will feel healthier and more energetic. And you will have a place to gather with friends and family and share in the bounty of the Earth. I look forward to welcoming you to our co-op!