At its eighth annual meeting, Oshkosh Food Co-op board and management laid out high aspirations for 2021: Growing membership to 1800, engaging neighbors in the USDA-designated food desert that surrounds the co-op’s location at the corner of Jackson Street and Pearl Avenue, building a Food for All program that supports low-income customers, securing a tenant for Co-op’s extra space, available for expansion but not needed for start-up operations and, most importantly, opening the retail grocery store.
Additional business included a sneak preview for member-owners of the Oshkosh Food Co-op’s new logo, an artful creation by Offbeat Press/Hype Visual and Drew Mueske, guided by Oshkosh Food Co-op Board Member Jay Stoflet. Board election results were also announced. Brenda Haines and Susan Vette were re-elected to serve three-year terms. Heidi Supple joins the board as a new member with a three-year term.
The virtual annual meeting also celebrated the food co-op’s successful 2020 fiscal year milestones, noting the added significance of achieving them during a global pandemic:
- Completion of the $1.6M public capital campaign – With the campaign complete, the Food Co-op signed a lease with Brio Building developer, Merge Urban Development Group.
- Winning grant funding – Receiving a highly competitive Healthy Foods Financing Initiative grant of $145,000 was a giant step.
- Securing a community loan – A favorable loan agreement with Greater Oshkosh Economic Development Corporation closed the funding gap for the project.
- Engagement with people living close to the store – The co-op invited traditionally underrepresented populations to focus groups, held collaboratively with local churches and neighborhood associations, to learn about their wants and needs in a central city grocery store.
- Admission to National Co+op Grocers (NCG) – NCG is a linchpin to success on many levels for food co-ops, providing access to shared buying for food staples, organic products, marketing and financial tools, and consulting services.
- Hiring a General Manager with food co-op experience – Jeffrey Thouron, formerly of Breadroot Natural Foods Co-op in Rapid City, SD, was hired last December to head the Oshkosh store.
- Building a team to build the store – Retail Planit (Sheboygan Falls,) Thomas Designs (Fond du Lac,) Greenfire Management Services (Milwaukee) were selected and construction is in progress, with a planned store-opening for late summer/early fall.
“I am so thrilled with all that has been accomplished by all of you! It’s such an important project, the work and dream of many for eight years,” said Kelly Matthews, founding member-owner and second board president, via chat following the meeting. “This is an exciting time for the Co-op and community.”
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 www.oshkoshfoodcoop.com
Post updated to USDA-designated food desert. An earlier version of the post indicated the food desert designation was made by the FDA.
Post updated to correct the name of the Rapid City, SD, food co-op to Breadroot Natural Foods Co-op. An earlier version incorrectly stated the co-op name as Breadroots Food Co-op.