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Food Co-op initiative

Food Co-op Initiative is a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to helping communities make their co-op vision into reality, and is the only national organization dedicated exclusively to helping startup food co-ops. Their grants, free consultations, and extensive library of educational resources have helped dozens of co-ops get their start since Food Co-op Initiative’s inception in 2005.

Food Co-op Initiative was founded in response to a continuing wave of interest in establishing new retail food co-ops. FCI provides a range of services to the hundreds of volunteer groups working to bring improved access to food and the other economic and social benefits of cooperatives to their communities.

With the retail grocery industry as sophisticated and competitive as ever, co-ops continue to fill an unmet need and thrive by doing a better job of satisfying the needs of their communities— through product selection, customer service, community outreach and education, support for local producers, and local ownership.

Food Co-op Initiative currently has 129 community groups on its startup co-op roster. Interest in starting new food co-ops is at all-time high since the 1960s. Since FCI started eight years ago they’ve been able to:

  • Help open 77 new co-ops across the U.S.

  • Award $308,000 in grants to 35 organizing co-ops

  • Develop a free, 22-part webinar series and an online resource library

  • Co-create three ongoing regional conferences focused on training startups

  • Make hundreds of site visits and community presentations

  • Provide countless hours of phone consulting and coaching

Seed Grants
FCI grants early stage capital to groups demonstrating organizational strength and a commitment to following proven development practices. Grants include consultation and on-site training, as well as cash awards. Just last year, they awarded $100,000 to 16 organizing co-ops in 12 states!

Food Co-op Initiative provides workshops at national and regional events for startup co-ops and cooperative developers on topics such as timelines and benchmarks, member recruitment, budget development, and special issues of starting grocery co-ops.

Online Resources
FCI’s website offers a series of 22 webinars detailing the co-op development process. Visitors will also find free templates for financial documents, a library of how-to documents, easy-to-use toolkits, and a searchable database of resource links.

FCI’s startup map currently lists 126 co-ops in active development across the United States. 34 new stores opened since 2010, generating more than $45M in sales annually—with $11M in local sales, and 26 more stores are expected to open in the next two years.

Food Co-op Initiative relies on the generous support of individual donors. Your contribution ensures startup communities continue to have access to the resources they need.

With donor support, in 2014 FCI will be able to:

  • Work closely with the 26 co-ops planning to open in the next two years

  • Train startups at five geographically diverse co-op development conferences

  • Present ten new webinars teaching up-to-date best practices

  • Leverage larger and more sustainable funding opportunities

Thanks to your contributions we’ll continue to grow a vibrant cooperative food movement in all 50 United States—seeding startups with the tools they need to be the farmers of their future.

Thank you for considering and Happy New Year!

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