ALTON — Existing and prospective members of Grassroots Grocery are invited to gather for an informational meeting to learn details on operations of the cooperative store, which opened in August and focuses on nutritious, locally produced food and natural home products.
The meeting will be 6:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 5, in the auditorium at the Simmons Hanly Conroy Law Firm, 1 Court St. in Alton.
The meeting will provide an open space to learn about the cooperative grocery, meet members, hear updates regarding current store programs, and receive information regarding the democratic process behind the co-op and how to help the grocery continue serving the community.
Anyone who wishes to join may show up to the meeting, visit www.GrassrootsGrocery.org or stop by the store at 415 Ridge St. to pay their annual dues. The store is open to the public, but members enjoy additional benefits. A membership to the grocery costs $100 per household, which entitles the family to a 10 percent discount at the store. 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. Membership also gives access to educational programming as well as a voice in the democratic process of the store. Grassroots Grocery will be governed by an Advisory Council elected by the members.
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.
“Alton’s Hunterstown neighborhood is no longer considered a food desert due to the hard work and dedication of hundreds of volunteers who have poured their energy into the project thus far,” co-founder Sara McGibany said. “Interest in healthy food and non-toxic products is growing, and Grassroots Grocery is a catalyst that’s providing a network for community members to meet others who value this culture.”
Through the store’s charitable policy, many residents who face food insecurity will qualify for the same 10 percent discount given to members. 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 $29,812.50), and residents of low-income senior assisted living facilities.
“Grassroots Grocery will give folks the opportunity to buy fresh, healthy food from people who are their neighbors,” said Christine Favilla, vice president of the Community Cultivators, the nonprofit organization that oversees the project. “Instead of sending local money to giant multi-national corporations in faraway places, we have the opportunity to provide people with affordable nourishment, while keeping that money circulating in the local economy where it can do the most good.”
Additional goals of Grassroots Grocery are to strengthen the region’s network of farmers, engage a diverse community in improving health and self-sufficiency, and contribute to a sustainable local economy.
“We are pursuing $100 cooperative membership dues in order to drive the unit price of the products down so that anyone can afford to shop there,” said Dr. Jackie Burns, professor of sociology at Principia College. “Growing the economy and bringing people to the neighborhood will foster additional economic growth and job creation.”
Additionally, businesses are able to purchase a corporate membership for their staff, to enhance their employee wellness program. Information can be found at www.GrassrootsGrocery.org.
To stay up-to-date on store announcements, like Grassroots Grocery on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GrassrootsGrocery.