Food Co-op 500 Awards First Four Development Grants

WASHINGTON -- The Food Co-op 500, a program to increase the number of retail grocery cooperatives from the current 300 to 500 in 10 years, said yesterday that it was awarding four Seed Fund development grants to the following projects: H Street Community Market in Washington ($10,000); MOON (Miami/Oxford Organic Network) Cooperative in Oxford, Ohio ($10,000); Soul Foods Cooperative in Oakland, Calif. ($10,000); and Vancouver Food Cooperative in Vancouver, Wash. ($2,000).

Grant recipients will use the money to fund organizing activities, among them studying the food co-op business; convening community meetings to gain support; drafting articles and bylaws; writing a business plan; and establishing an accounting system.

Food Co-op 500 is a joint venture of National Cooperative Bank (NCB), NCB Development Corp. (NCBDC), National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA), and Cooperative Development Services (CDS). Blooming Prairie Foundation matched $50,000 from NCB to capitalize the Seed Fund.

The Food Co-op 500 is part of NCB's Mission Banking initiative designed to spark development of new co-ops and boost investment in the communities served by NCB.

"We hope that these four grants and the commitment that we have made to support new food co-op development will spark an explosion in new co-ops being formed in communities across the country," said Richard J. Dines, NCB's program manager for cooperative development, in a statement.

The next deadline for funding applications is in February. Applicants may apply to either the Seed Fund or the Sprout Fund. The Seed Fund provides grants to help potential co-ops organize, while the Sprout Fund provides capital during the middle stage of development-feasibility assessment and business planning. The money from both funds must be matched in equal dollars by the newly forming co-op. Applications and additional information are available at
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