National Food Co-op Group Names Oshkosh Food Co-op “Best of the Best” for 2020-2021

(Oshkosh, Wis.) – Food Co-op Initiative (FCI) awarded Oshkosh Food Co-op the coveted national Best of the Best Award at its annual “Up and Coming” Food Co-op Conference. The award was presented as part of the 5-day learning event, held virtually this year due to the pandemic. The award recognizes exceptional use of an existing co-op development best practice by a startup food co-op during the development process. It honors startup food co-ops that use best practices and illuminate the way forward to help peer co-ops reach new levels of success.

Startups from across the United States are eligible for the Best of the Best award. The Oshkosh Food Co-op was named a finalist for the award in April, alongside Assabet Village Co-op Market in Maynard, MA, and The Paso Food Co-op, Paso Robles, CA.

“Oshkosh Food Co-op’s masterful use of the four-in-three startup food co-op model, and its savvy ability to adapt it to its own startup’s needs, helped it create new ways to meet the many and complex challenges that face co-op startups,” said JQ Hannah, Assistant Director, Food Co-op Initiative.

Hannah cited two innovative approaches used by Oshkosh: “Co-op Grow-op” events helped educate the community about the benefits of member-owned grocery stores and created excitement around becoming a member-owner. Co-op Grow-op events, now replicated nationwide, earned the Food Co-op Initiative’s National Startup Innovator Award in 2018. The food co-op’s hybrid capital campaign, which raised $1.6 million in member-loans and donations from more than 600 participants, proved an innovative way to both raise funds needed and gain broad community support.

In accepting the award, Oshkosh Food Co-op board president, Brenda Haines thanked both Food Co-op Initiative for the many learning opportunities it makes available to food co-ops around the country and other startup food co-ops who’ve willingly shared their experiences.  “We are so fortunate,” she said, “to benefit from the experience that FCI and other co-ops share freely with those of us who make this journey to establish member-owned grocery stores.  You got us here, and we are deeply honored for this recognition.” 

The Four Cornerstones in Three Stages Development Model (4-in-3) was created by Cooperative Development Services and CDS Consulting Co-op as a structure for planning and organizing the many steps involved in starting a new food co-op.  Food Co-op Initiative uses the 4-in-3 model to guide new coop organizers to harness their vision, talent, capital, and systems to help them make the right investments in learning, planning, and investment to create a successful food co-op. 

Food Co-op Initiative is a non-profit organization based in Savage, MN.  Its mission is to increase the number and sustainability of new food cooperatives providing access to healthy food in diverse communities.   It provides materials, technical support and consultation free of charge to startup retail food co-ops in the U.S.

About the Oshkosh Food Co-op

The Oshkosh Food Co-op is a community-led effort to open a full-line grocery store in the heart of Oshkosh, available to all shoppers. Modeled after member-owned grocery stores in Wisconsin and nationwide, Oshkosh Food Co-op organized in 2013. Individuals and organizations from throughout the region are invited to help the Co-op realize its vision — to strengthen local economies, promote health, and build communities — by purchasing ownership shares. An ownership share costs $180, payable all at once or in 18 $11 monthly installments. The Oshkosh Food Co-op is a member of National Co+op Grocers. To learn more, and to become a member-owner, visit


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  • Brenda Haines
    published this page in News 2021-05-13 21:13:16 -0500

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