Louisville Food Cooperative

foodcoop-narrowLouisville needs and deserves a Food Cooperative, owned by the community and sourcing healthy, local and regional food year-round!  And it’s coming — if there is enough interest!

The Louisville Food Cooperative steering committee and our FoodWorks summer intern, Sathya Govindasamy, hosted a Community Meeting on August 2 to gauge interest and to launch the initiative. About 50 interested friends & neighbors  joined us at 1619 Flux Gallery at 1619 West Main Street to discuss plans for the Louisville Food Co-op

Take our survey and sign up for one of our committees, at

www.tinyurl.com/loufoodcoop

If you’d like to find out more and receive updates, or get involved in the planning for the Louisville Food Co-op, please sign up using our form at the bottom of the page.

People asked some good questions at the meeting!

Q&A from August 2 Community Meeting:

Q: How many members do we need?

A: We think we need between 2000-3000 members to sustain the co-op,though we need to do more research. Our initial goal is 1000 members and $1 million. Most of the capital to start the co-op will come from sources other than membership shares.

Q: How much will it cost to become a member-owner of the co-op?

A: Anyone will be welcome to shop whether they are a member-owner or not. People who are members will receive benefits and help make decisions. Based on research about other co-ops we think the price of the share will probably be between $100-$200. If you want to help us figure this out please join the Governance & Membership Committee.

Q : Are we hooked up to the National Cooperative Grocers Association ? or other similar organizations?

A: Yes! NCGA and several other organizations  have excellent resources. We love the How to Start a Food Co-op Guide from the Cooperative Grocers’ Information Network and are using it to navigate the process.

Q: Are we learning lessons from co-ops that have closed or have not had long-lasting success?

A: It is very important to us that we learn lessons from successful and unsuccessful cooperatives. Doing this research and preparing a feasibility study will help us tremendously though it makes for a longer process. One of the lessons we have learned from other co-ops that are having trouble getting off the ground, is that we need to focus on raising membership and capital before looking too hard at locations or real estate. Other initiatives struggle when they focus on a specific location

The more people who get involved and help move it forward, the sooner we will have a co-op that avoids others’ pitfalls and emulates others’ successes. Take our survey and sign up for one of our committees, at www.tinyurl.com/loufoodcoop

Q: Has anyone talked about connecting to the Food Port project?

A: If there is wholesale distribution of produce or other local food at the Food Port, the co-op could be a buyer of that food.  As mentioned in the previous question, the campaign for a food co-op is not tied to any specific location. Fortunately for us, our neighborhoods of interest have plenty of real estate available!

Q: What do you mean by “Downtown” location?

A: The neighborhoods we have been considering are urban neighborhoods where New Roots has been successful organizing cooperative purchasing at the Fresh Stop Markets, and where neighbors have few shopping options. Smoketown/Shelby Park and westward are areas of highest interest, though there seems to be interest from Germantown as well.

Q: How far along are we in leadership training, documenting, and identifying resources?

A: We are not very far along and we have a lot of work to do! If you are interested please join one of the committees and move the effort along: Governance & Membership; Finance & Fundraising; Market & Real Estate Research; Community Outreach; and the Steering Committee. Fill out the form at the bottom of this page & tell us what you’re interested in!

Q: How can city government be helpful?

A: Some city officials are aware of our campaign and Louisville Forward wrote us a letter of support for the Kresge grant we wrote in January 2016. If we had gotten that grant we would have gotten $75,000 to hire an organizer. This campaign will move faster if we can hire an organizer!

Q: Can we merge producer & consumer cooperatives into one operation?

A: That may be a model to consider since producers also need a wholesale distribution center. We might also consider  worker-owned and union co-operative models.

Q: Could this work as a corner store model? In our historic urban neighborhoods, like Russell, many corners were retail outlets and are still zoned commercial.

A: All this is open for exploration- Market Research committee has its work cut out for it!

Q: Should everyone in the room read Collective Courage by Jessica Gordon Nembhard, About the history of African American Cooperatives  ?

A: Yes!

Yes! I’m interested in the Louisville Food Co-op and I want to know more:

 

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