by Kirsten Moore, Cooperative Services Director
Happy holidays! Here at the Co-op, we’re invested in nourishing our community this holiday season, and there are a number of ways you make that support possible and that you can get involved.
Double Dollars Fund Holiday Pantries of Plenty Campaign: Support Double Dollars, Support Local Food Pantries
Did you know that right now we are doubling your Double Dollars Fund contributions? It’s true! Since the beginning of November and through the rest of December we’re matching your cash donations and bag reuse dollar-for-dollar and dime-for-dime.
Double Dollars is a nutrition incentive program to help those using FoodShare/QUEST purchase fresh or frozen fruits, vegetables and legumes; and seeds and seedlings for growing edible plants. Double Dollars are available year-round, from October to May at the Co-op, and from June to November at participating local farmers’ markets. The vouchers are primarily funded through the Co-op’s Double Dollars Fund where you can either participate by choosing $1, $5, $10, or $25 Double Dollars Fund scan cards at the cash registers to add a cash donation to your receipt at checkout, or by simply reusing bags when you shop at the Co-op. When you bring reusable bags for your shopping trip, we’ll save 10¢ to contribute to the fund, and when you reuse disposable bags for shopping, we’ll save $5¢ to contribute to the fund.
Until the end of December, when you make a cash donation or reuse bags to support Double Dollars, we will match up to $10,000 of your donations by providing Pantries of Plenty to our six neighborhood food pantries: Bread of Life Food Pantry, Goodman Community Center Fitz Food Pantry, Lussier Community Education Center, Middleton Outreach Ministry, The River Food Pantry and Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center. The match will be split six ways to each food pantry and provided in Co-op gift cards to provide fresh items that are harder to come by in the winter season.
Supporting Double Dollars always supports your local food pantries because when people can purchase groceries instead of relying on food pantries, food pantries can then focus on those who need their resources most. Please consider contributing to the Double Dollars Fund whenever you shop the Co-op by scanning donation cards or bringing in bags to reuse. It makes a difference, and throughout December, the difference is double! Thank you for your continued support of these valuable community programs.
For more information about Double Dollars, please visit www.willystreet.coop/double-dollars
Fifth Annual Santas Without Chimneys Drive
It’s been five years since we started partnering with Autonomous Solidarity’s Santas Without Chimneys (SWC) program to collect gifts for homeless and highly mobile children and youth in the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD). Now through December 20, we’re collecting gifts at all three retail locations.
SWC is an independent, all-volunteer, “ask-based,” crowd-sourced and non-faith-based holiday donation drive organized with the assistance of MMSD’s Transitional Education Program and district social workers. SWC seeks to bring cheer and giving, and one of the greatest sources of support for gift donations comes in the form of dropboxes in local businesses. If you are interested, you may bring items such as cozy blankets (no bed comforters); kids’ socks, gloves, mittens, hats and scarves; new hair accessories; teen and pre-teen cosmetics; new or like-new books, or new art supplies to any of our locations and drop them in SWC’s designated drop boxes in the foyers. All gifts must be unwrapped; please do not wrap your gifts! Drop boxes will be at the stores through December 20.
For more information, please visit www.santaswithoutchimneys.org (link is external)
Support Luna’s Groceries in the Allied-Dunn’s Marsh Neighborhood
About three years ago, the Allied-Dunn’s Marsh neighborhood lost their one walkable source for groceries, a Walgreens. At that time, I began meeting with the Allied Community Cooperative (ACC), a multi-stakeholder cooperative owned by neighborhood residents and community organizations that operate within the Allied-Dunn’s Marsh neighborhood. We began to explore various avenues for opening an independent healthy corner store, ideally cooperatively owned by the residents of the neighborhood. In our talks, the people in attendance were clear: they wanted something started and owned by people from the neighborhood. The ACC established a grocery committee, and together, we secured funding from the City of Madison’s Healthy Retail Access Program to reimburse ACC for conducting a feasibility study and deciding whether ACC should move forward with developing a cooperatively-owned corner store within the neighborhood. We worked together to acquire a market study, to develop a financial pro forma to determine how much a store would cost to open, how much money ACC would need to support the store, how long it might take to become a profitable or sustainable business, and how the store could feasibly be staffed. We also met with a variety of community leaders, charitable organizations, investors, and neighborhood residents along the way to seek creative partnerships, funds, and to learn what people in the community wanted to see at what would ultimately become their neighborhood store. The process was slow and deliberate, as the cooperative process can often be, because when a cooperative is seeking to open a business owned by a community, it needs the support of the community. That means the organizers need to present a plan to potential co-op owners that is financially sound and predicts success. The committee was working on it, but not confident just yet.
Enter Mariam and Joe Maldonado, two Allied-Dunn’s Marsh residents. Mariam has family history in the grocery business, and a dream to open Luna’s Groceries, her own small grocery store in the neighborhood. With a business plan at the ready and more support from the City’s Healthy Retail Access Program, UW Health, a GoFundMe campaign, plus the additional backing of the residents of the Allied-Dunn’s Marsh Neighborhood and ACC (who is supplying the Maldonados with the information from the grocery committee study for reference), they are opening a neighborhood store very similar to the one ACC dreamed of three years ago. The ACC grocery committee is grateful to Mariam and Joe for their passion and efforts! At the time of writing this article, the Maldonados were anticipating opening on November 15.
On November 3, the Allied-Dunn’s Marsh neighborhood honored me with one of their annual Allied Accountability Awards for my service on the grocery committee, and I am very grateful for the recognition. It has been a pleasure to work with the Allied Community Cooperative and to get to know the people in the neighborhood over the past three years, and I appreciated the experience and opportunity to consider the cooperative possibilities there. I am also thrilled that the Maldonados are investing in their neighborhood and putting themselves and local residents to work to supply groceries for their community, which is almost exactly what the Allied Community Cooperative was seeking all along. Congratulations to the Allied-Dunn’s Marsh neighborhood and to the Maldonados. Here’s to Luna’s Groceries’ success!
You can support Luna’s Groceries several ways: by contributing to their GoFundMe at www.gofundme.com/friends-of-luna039s, by shopping Luna’s Groceries when you are near or in the Allied-Dunn’s Marsh Neighborhood, and by finding them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LunasGroceries. Luna’s Groceries is located at 2010 Red Arrow Trail in Madison.
It Takes A Community
Whether you reuse bags or make cash donations to Double Dollars, bring unwrapped gifts for Santas Without Chimneys, visit Luna’s Groceries’ GoFundMe from your computer, say “yes” to Community CHIP at our cash registers, or whether you have other charitable opportunities outside the Co-op that you enjoy, we are grateful for your contribution to the greater community because it takes each and every one of us to make a collective difference. Cheers to community, warmth, and nourishment today and in 2019. Thank you for supporting your Co-op and supporting your neighbors!