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Area co-op coalition receives Innovation funding

The Food Co-op Coalition of the Region Five Development Commission was recently awarded $49,600 in Innovation funding from National Joint Powers Alliance of Staples.

The Ideal Green Market in Ideal Township is one of six co-ops part of a coalition receiving Innovation funding from the National Joint Powers Alliance.
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The Food Co-op Coalition of the Region Five Development Commission was recently awarded $49,600 in Innovation funding from National Joint Powers Alliance of Staples.

Led by the city of Crosslake, the Food Co-op Coalition representing all five counties in Region Five (Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd and Wadena counties) will use its funds to launch an educational campaign. The campaign, "Why Co-ops?", emphasizes the value of food co-op membership/ownership and purchasing.

Supported by six food cooperatives and communities from the region and beyond, the proposal allows for the food co-ops to work together on a campaign that relays the economic value of purchasing from local food retailers, who in turn purchase from local growers and providers-creating and retaining our regional wealth, a news release stated. The campaign will also focus on the personal benefits of purchasing healthy foods and further advise how neighbors and co-workers can help each other become food co-op members/owners.

The six co-ops include: Crow Wing Food Co-op in Brainerd (Crow Wing County), Everybody's Market in Long Prairie (Todd County), Ideal Green Market Co-op in Ideal Township (Cass & Crow Wing counties), Manna Foods in Wadena (Wadena County), The Purple Carrot in Little Falls (Morrison County), and Minnesota Street Market in St. Joseph-which is actually in Stearns County, Region Seven-W.

The participating co-ops range in years of existence from just forming/yet to open to 38 years old, and currently represent approximately 2,530 member-owners, not to mention the "friends" of the co-ops who shop regularly.


The overall goal of a cooperative is to create organizations serving the needs of the people who use them. They are member-owned, member-governed businesses that operate for the benefit of their members. Co-ops provide goods and services in a way that keeps community resources in the community. Members pool resources to bring about economic results that are unobtainable by one person alone, the release stated. It is from this foundation that the six co-ops joined to form the Co-op Coalition in November 2016 with facilitation assistance from the Region Five Development Commission to support one another and work collaboratively for the benefit of all.

The Food Co-op Coalition educational campaign, "Why Co-ops?", is the first of what is hoped to be many projects as a coalition, the release stated. Project coordinator, Barb Mann, of Ideal Green Market Co-op, said she was excited to aid in implementing the vision of this marketing campaign.

"It is hoped with a cohesive message and branding of food cooperatives in our region, that it aids in growing the local food economy in our region," Mann said in the release. "As people travel through the region, residents and visitors alike can patronize co-ops wherever they travel, impacting economic growth locally and regionally on multiple levels. Everybody wins."

"Why Co-ops?" project updates will be posted to www.thegoodlifenorthcentralmn.com/the-good-life , along with educational information about what co-ops are, how they work and stories from the people who shop, grow and create value-added goods. Links to each of the regional co-ops will also be posted so shoppers can travel the region and shop local wherever they are.

For more information about the Food Co-op Coalition, email Mann at barnmanb@gmail.com . For more information about NJPA, contact Chelsea Ornelas, public relations and social media specialist at chelsea.ornelas@njpacoop.org or call 218-895-4164.

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