A non-profit organization which supports food co-ops has extended an invitation to the Fuquay-Varina Community Market to submit an application for a seed grant. The Food Cooperative Initiative will award a total of $50,000 in seed grants to assist new food co-ops in implementing their initial phases.
The steering committee was formed by a group of local Fuquay-Varina citizens to establish a food coop-erative store: a full-service, community-owned grocery store. Incorporated in January 2012, the Fuquay-Varina Community Market is led by a steering committee who has been working for several months to raise awareness, gain community support through membership growth as well as raise funds to conduct a feasibility study.
The group envisions a store which provides healthy, organic, and minimally-processed foods, Fair Trade items, prepared foods for eat in or take out, and a setting for the community to congregate, socialize and appreciate the activities and arts available in the local community. The steering committee believes that the Fuquay-Varina area is an ideal location which would serve the Southwest Wake, Western Johnston and Harnett County areas.
Most food cooperatives are usually consumers’ cooperatives and are owned by their members. Food cooperatives follow the Seven Cooperative Principles and typically offer natural foods. The Seven Cooperative Principles are voluntary and open membership; democratic member control; member economic participation; autonomy and independence; education, training and information; cooperation among co-operatives and concern for community.
The United Nations declared 2012 as the International Year of the Cooperative in recognition of the cooperative model’s success in meeting a broad range of society’s needs. Not only are cooperatives an economically viable alternative to traditional business models, but they also uphold the values of their ownership and provide a sustainable source of revenue for their communities.
In addition, food co-ops are typically in downtown settings, which provide an anchor in the downtown, builds the local economy and is a sustainable source of revenue to the community. Food co-ops also spur job creation, increase the local food system and decrease the carbon footprint.
According to the Food Cooperative Initiative’s director, Stuart Reid, demonstration of strong community support is a major key to grant fund awards. The grants are “matching funds,” which means that the co-op organization must have at least the same funds as the amount which is being requested. The grant application will be written by steering committee members Tammie Quick and Sandy Block and is due on August 10.