Crow River Food Coop making house calls?

Residents of Rockford should not be alarmed if someone in a white t-shirt makes their way up the driveway and tries to engage in conversation.

In fact, a closer inspection (of the t-shirt) will reveal the intent of the visit.

The Crow River Food Coop group is kicking off a door-to-door campaign to inform area residents about the cooperative grocery effort and will be able to extend membership on the spot, or direct interested parties in how to obtain membership on their own.

The Crow River Food Coop has made strides since the idea was first kicked around a couple of years ago. A board now oversees regular monthly meetings, 139 members have bought in as members, and extensive research on community coops has been ongoing. Events promoting the effort have been held in various locations around town (such as the coop booth at National Night Out on Aug. 6 at Riverside Park) and members attend the Delano Community Market on Saturdays from 9 to noon to help create interest and get the word out.

The word is this: The absence of a local grocer in the Rockford area is one that’s been felt by residents for several years. Surveys conducted by the city, asking citizens what kinds of businesses it would like to see come to the area, consistently and loudly favor a grocery store. To date, although several retailers have been approached and, in some cases, have shown interest in the community, the city remains without a grocer. The idea of forming a member owned food coop was introduces as an alternative and several residents came together to investigate the option, and found it a viable one. A committee was formed and the shirts sleeves rolled up.

The Crow River Food Coop vision includes a full service grocery retailer that stocks conventional foods, household items and local, organic, and natural foods at a fair price. The store would be open seven days a week to anyone who wants to shop it. Those who want to support it, and get it off the ground, are encouraged to become members. A family/household stake is $200, one time, with an 8-month payment option of $26. Membership affords regular discounts on various items.

Opening a food cooperative is an excellent opportunity for area residents to shop within their community and offers a convenience those in, and around, Rockford do not have now. It’s also a great way to get fresh, locally raised produce while picking up household staples. A coop can be an alternative to driving out of town to shop big box stores, or it can be an enhancement to a shopper’s regular purchasing routine. The positive aspects of bringing in a food coop are many. The goal, attainable. The coop needs 500 members to open the doors of a store, and is now sitting at 139. It seems mighty, but the number’s grown steadily and this campaign is expected to garner awareness and support. Residents are actually supporting each other, and bringing value to the community, by becoming members and making a local grocery store a reality.

So, if you want to know more about Crow River Coop, or are interested in joining, there will be a well-informed representative coming by in August.

If you can’t wait that long, go to www.crowriverfoodcoop.com.

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