Published August 26, 2017 by Food Co-op Initiative

Food Co-op Initiative Awards $40,000 as Part of New Program to Address Grocery Gap in Inner Cities

Press Release August 25, 2017, Savage, MN

Food Co-op Initiative has announced Urban Market Initiative Seed Grant awards of $10,000 each to four groups organizing new food co-ops in urban food deserts. The recipients are:

2017 Urban Market Initiative seed grant imageThe grants are part of a multi-faceted initiative to provide better support to communities that are solving the lack of healthy food access by taking matters into their own hands. The planned food co-ops will be owned and controlled by the people who shop in them and are being developed by volunteer community members with guidance from cooperative development specialists.

Despite the intense competition in the grocery industry, many lower-income urban communities find themselves with limited access to fresh and healthy food options. When national chain stores and independent supermarkets abandon communities, families are left with convenience stores or time-consuming trips to the nearest full-service market. In the last few years these communities have increasingly begun exploring cooperative business models, sometimes as the only remaining option. Cooperative ownership enables hundreds of local individuals to pool their resources to finance the renovations, equipment and inventory needed to start a grocery store. Community investment also comes in the form of economic development funding and grants from organizations committed to improving people’s lives. The grassroots support and commitment needed to get the store open can be an empowering experience that often leads to further ventures.

The project is made possible by grants from Capital Impact Partners and the Blooming Prairie Foundation. This Seed Grant Program, called the Urban Market Initiative  (UMI), will provide resources to these startup co-ops as well as learning opportunities for co-op developers. Food Co-op Initiative (FCI) is a 501c3 nonprofit cooperative development center that specializes in new food co-op development across the United States. We have been a part of opening over 130 new retail food co-ops in the U.S. in the last ten years, and are presently working with 120 startups.