by Joni Astrup
An effort is underway in Elk River to form a food co-op.
A food co-op is a collectively owned grocery store. It most often focuses on making natural foods more affordable for co-op members, although other products may be carried as well, according to the Elk River Area Food Co-op.
Organizers Kari Froehlich and Nikki Follmer said the food co-op would feature things like local foods, natural foods and fresh produce, including organic. Froehlich, who is a holistic health counselor, and Follmer, a dental assistant, are friends who saw the need for a food co-op in the area.
They began the process of organizing it in November by attending a co-op conference in LaCrosse, Wis. There they learned how to get a co-op started and were excited to discover it was possible to do.
In February they launched an Elk River Area Food Co-op page on Facebook and began the first of monthly organizational meetings.
“Right away there was tons of support just via social networking,” Froehlich said.
This summer they have had a table at the Elk River Farmers Market to advertise the food co-op, where they said they have seen overwhelming support for the idea.
Starting a food co-op is a three- to five-year process, they said. The next step is to incorporate. Once that’s done, they can officially form a board of directors and begin selling memberships and applying for grants.
“It’s one step at a time, and every step takes time,” Follmer said.
They are actively seeking board members and other volunteers and will be forming committees.
Not every food co-op has a store, but they envision having a store in Elk River.
“It’s a very, very large community-supported effort to get the doors to open,” Froehlich said. “If the community does not support the start-up phases, then they will not support the store, typically.”
For more information, go to Elk River Area Food Co-op on Facebook or email Elkriverfoodcoop@gmail.com