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The Grassroots Grocery window decal
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ALTON — Grassroots Grocery organizers say they are pleased to announce they have surpassed the halfway mark in their campaign to open a store that will offer healthy, locally grown and organic foods and natural home products in a USDA-classified “food desert” in Alton’s Hunterstown neighborhood.
Volunteers have raised about $25,000 to order initial inventory and cover the expense of building out the space, currently under way. The doors will open soon after successfully raising an additional $25,000 to cover six months of operational costs, as advised by business mentors.
“We have gotten a lot of sage advice from the counselors at SCORE as well as the Small Business Development Center at SIUE and the University of Illinois Extension,” co-founder Sara McGibany said. “All have strongly recommended that in order to get off on the right foot we have a six-month cushion of overhead in the bank.”
The first $24,500 was raised through donations from individuals in the community, and The Bank of Edwardsville was the first business to make a $1,000 donation which tipped the campaign past its halfway point just in time for Small Business Saturday on Nov. 29.
Households that donate $100 membership dues to the cooperative will enjoy a 10 percent discount on purchases for one year.
“If a family spends $100 of their existing monthly food budget at Grassroots Grocery, then the membership will more than pay for itself over the course of a year,” co-founder Christine Favilla said. “There will be an added benefit to the local economy since our products will be grown or made within a 50-mile radius whenever possible.”
Businesses that make a contribution can provide the 10 percent discount to employees as a health benefit of their compensation package. Corporate membership fees are based on number of employees: Micro (five employees or less), $250; small (six to 20 employees), $500; medium (20 to 50 employees), $1,000; large (51-plus employees), negotiable.
One will not have to be a member in order to shop; anyone can take advantage of the full-service grocery and through the newly enacted charitable policy, many residents who face food insecurity will qualify for the 10 percent discount. Qualifications include: households on public assistance (receiving SNAP, WIC, Medicare/Medicaid, free or reduced lunch program, or unemployment benefits), low-income households earning up to 125 percent of the Illinois poverty level (threshold for a family of four is earning less than $29,812), and residents of low-income senior assisted living facilities.
Another element of the charitable policy is the opportunity for individuals earning between 125 percent and 200 percent of the state poverty level to earn their membership by volunteering two hours per month at the store. That threshold for a family of four is earning less than $47,700 per year. Grassroots Grocery will also enact an “affordability program” to offer a low mark-up on selected items that would be considered staples in many people’s diets. The store will strive for a “zero-waste” policy by transferring items to a discounted clearance section toward the end of their shelf life; ultimately donating items to local food pantries.
Visit www.GrassrootsGrocery.org to review donation levels, each with different perks depending on the contribution amount. A short video can be found on the website, in which those involved explain the need for such an endeavor and the benefits it will have in the community. The project’s short-term goal is to build a strong outreach component to educate citizens about the importance of fresh foods and how to prepare them, and the ultimate vision is to foster economic growth and job creation in the neighborhood.
“A membership to Grassroots Grocery would make a meaningful holiday gift for a loved one,” Outreach Chair Laura Asher said. “We would be happy to provide a gift certificate to place under the tree if you make your donation by Dec. 20.”
Grassroots Grocery is a project of the Community Cultivators, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, so donations are tax-deductible.
The grocery project attracted the eye of Anne Farley Gaines, visiting faculty at Principia College, who chose the building as a canvas for her recently completed mural. Principia art students assisted in the creation of the artwork, along with residents who attended open workshops. The mural, entitled “Abundance,” celebrates the region’s beauty and bounty through painted and mosaic panels that incorporate imagery of fruits and vegetables as well as native animals, farmland, the Mississippi and the monument for local abolitionist hero Elijah Lovejoy.
To make a donation and become a member, visit www.GrassrootsGrocery.org.
For updates on store news, like Grassroots Grocery on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GrassrootsGrocery. For more information, contact Christine Favilla at (618) 401-7870 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or Sara McGibany at email@example.com or (618) 463-1016.
NOTE: This article was submitted to AdVantage News by Grassroots Grocery organizers. To submit your press releases and photos, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://advantagenews.com/contact-us.