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IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Judges in the first-ever "Cooperate for Community!" contest for those whose work in the area of sustainable food most exemplifies the cooperative spirit have named Joseph Kiefer the winner and Barbara Eiswerth and Juanita Nelson finalists. They will each receive a donation to the nonprofit organization of their choice. The National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA) presented the contest.
Kiefer, of Food Works in Montpelier, Vt., won for matching local growers with local human service agencies to teach consumers, most of them low-income or underserved elderly and child populations, how to prepare and enjoy local produce. He will receive a $7,500 donation his chosen nonprofit.
Eiswerth, of Iskash*taa Refugee Harvesting Network in Tucson, Ariz., organized several hundred refugees and volunteers to harvest and redistribute locally grown produce. Nelson, of Free Harvest Supper of Locally Grown Food Organizing Committee in Deerfield, Mass., started the annual Harvest Supper, an event that celebrates local agriculture and donates thousands of dollars to the local food pantry. Each will receive a $2,500 donation.
In July NCGA launched "Cooperate for Community!" with its co-sponsor, Norway, Iowa-based Frontier Natural Products Co-op, a wholesale cooperative specializing in natural and organic products. Individuals submitted 500-word nominations describing an individual or organization best embodying the cooperative spirit.
Twenty-seven co-ops across the United States held local "Cooperate for Community!" competitions, and the local winners were then sent for consideration in the national judging. Kiefer was the local winner for Hunger Mountain Co-op, Eiswerth was the local winner for Food Conspiracy Co-op, and Nelson was the local winner for Green Fields Market.
"Each of these individuals have in their own way made the community a better place by being, and helping others be, more mindful of the connection between our food, how it is grown, and the impact on human, environmental, and animal health," said NCGA c.e.o. Robynn Shrader.
Information on winners and nominees can be found at www.ncga.coop/contest.
NCGA is a member services cooperative for 110 consumer-owned natural food co-ops located across the country.