The NEWC Healthy Eating team interviewed Linda Jones from the Grand Rapids Food Co-op at our January meeting. We would love to see this organization locate in the north end and would encourage you to join as a member-owner – a status they have deliberately made accessible regardless of income level.
What does a Co-op mean for your neighborhood?
A Co-op is a member owned grocery store. It is owned by members of the community. Everyone who buys a share in the business has a vote and they share the profits in some way when the business is profitable.
Co-ops are generally more responsive to the needs of the community. They focus on improved healthy food access to neighborhoods that need it. They are inspired to offer healthy, sustainable, and locally sourced grocery options. The members decide what products and services are offered.
Not only do they work to strengthen our local food system, Co-ops provide good paying jobs to people who live near the store, they provide a community gathering space that welcomes everyone, and they show Grand Rapids a new way to do business cooperatively that keeps the money circulating in our community.
What kind of products will be in the store?
That will be decided by our owners/members. We anticipate that we will have as much local food as possible. We want to have food that is healthy and good for all diets. We will also have other household products, health and beauty products, a deli, a hot bar, a salad bar, bulk foods and spices, and beer and wine.
What are the values and principles that guide the Co-op in how it operates?
Co-ops are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, cooperative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others. Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political religious discrimination.
How much is a share of the Co-op?
There’s a great option for you no matter your budget:
A regular share in the Grand Rapids Co-op is $250 for each household. Shares are not yearly fees, you pay this amount one time to become an owner/member of the Co-op. This can be paid all at once or over ten months at $25 per month.
If you are low income, you can access our Food for All program and buy a share for $25.
If your budget does not allow you to buy a share, we have a scholarship program that can help.
Do I need to be a member or a share owner to shop there? No. Anyone is welcome!
Can I join anytime?
Yes! But the sooner the better, we need a minimum number of members to get our vision up and running.
What if I want to leave the Co-op?
You can leave the Co-op anytime and your share will be returned to you according to the bylaws.