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WASHINGTON -- The Food Co-op 500 here has awarded four Sprout Fund grants and its first Sprout Fund loan to food cooperatives in Connecticut, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, and Washington state. The aim of the program is to increase the number of retail grocery cooperatives from the current 300 to 500 in 10 years.
"Even as Wal-Mart enters into the 'green grocery' segment, cooperative grocers -- relying on a model that has been successful for more than 70 years -- continue to thrive," noted Richard Dines, NCB's program manager for cooperative development, in a statement. "Why? Because co-ops are owned and controlled by the communities they serve. [I]nfusing additional money into food co-op development [will allow] more Americans will be able to take advantage of cooperative enterprise."
The funding recipients are as follows:
--Chatham Real Food Market, Chatham, N.Y.: $10,000 Seed Fund grant
--Harvest Moon Natural Foods Cooperative, Orono, Minn.: $10,000 Seed Fund grant
--Medford Market in Medford, Ore.: $10,000 Seed Fund grant
--Yelm Food Co-op in Yelm, Wash.: $10,000 Seed Fund grant
--Fiddleheads Natural Foods Cooperative in Waterford, Conn.: $25,000 Sprout Fund loan
The Seed Fund helps potential co-ops in the early stages of organization, while the Sprout Fund provides capital during the middle and late stages of development. The money from both funds must be matched in equal dollars by the co-op.
The committee reviewing the applications includes representatives of NCB and the Blooming Prairie Foundation, the two organizations that provided money to create the Seed Fund, plus representatives of NCB Development Corporation (NCBDC) and the National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA). NCB offers Sprout Fund loans through NCBDC. Awardees must use the money for organizing and pre-development activities, including studying the food co-op business; convening community meetings to gain support; drafting article and bylaws; writing a business plan and establishing an accounting system.
Food Co-op 500 is a collaboration of National Cooperative Bank (NCB), NCB Development Corporation (NCBDC), National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA), and Cooperative Development Services (CDS). Blooming Prairie Foundation matched $50,000 from NCB to capitalize the Seed Fund.
The next deadline for funding applications is Sept. 1. Applicants may apply for either a Seed Fund grant or a Sprout Fund loan. Visit http://www.foodcoop500.coop for applications and additional information.