Earlier this month, the
Gateway Food Coop
received a $10,000 matching grant from the Food Coop Initiative (FCI),
a national nonprofit organization that promotes the cooperative economy.
Gateway was one of 10 coops across the country to get the seed funding, according to Gateway information.
The coop, which began organizing last year, wants to bring a sustainable, natural foods coop to St. Paul’s diverse East Side.
Elizabeth Butterfield, who co-chairs the coop’s steering committee, explains the way the grant works: “For every dollar we spend of the Seed Grant money, we are expected to spend a dollar of our own money.” The money will go toward community outreach and member-owner recruitment efforts, including hiring a part-time community organizer.
Additionally, FCI will provide expertise to the coop, “noting if there are techniques that can be repeated in other similar areas throughout the country,” she says.
This kind of relationship building is important for meeting its goals, according to Butterfield. For example, shortly after finding out about the FCI award, "We were approached by Mississippi Market
to compete for a $14,000 gift,” which will be given out in October, she says. “Their members will vote to award the money to three out of five nonprofits that are competing for the funds.”
Separately, Phalen Ovenworks is hosting a wood-fired pizza party to benefit the coop on October 6.
The place also raises money for the coop through bread sales on Sunday nights.
So far, the coop has 84 members, a number it hopes to grow through events this fall. But at this point, it’s too early to say where on the East Side the coop might be go. The coop has yet to do a thorough market study, Butterfield says.
Source: Elizabeth Butterfield, organizer, Gateway Food Coop
Writer: Anna Pratt