The Oshkosh community is looking to fill a gap in what they say is a food desert in the city.
Members of the community hope that opening a food co-op will help fill that gap, providing grocery options to neighborhoods that need stores closer to their homes.
The United States Department of Agriculture has declared central Oshkosh as a food desert.
The USDA defines a food desert as an area that lacks options to buy affordable or healthy food.
That’s why Oshkosh community members want to educate the city on how a co-op can benefit everyone.
A food co-op is a business owned by the community.
Essentially a grocery store for the people, by the people.
“The wonderful thing about community owned grocery stores, food co-ops, is that they’re very invested in the community,” says president of the Oshkosh Food Co-Op Brenda Haines. “We’re excited, we expect to have a store that’s around the size of a drugstore you might think about, so we are looking forward to having a grocery store in Oshkosh’s central city.”
While the Oshkosh Food Co-Op is excited about opening they need 1200 owners to do so.
Right now there are about 635 members signed up.
It’s a resource some say would prove to be beneficial like other co-ops around the country.
“I have shopped at a lot of co-ops when I lived in Montana and Santa Fe, New Mexico,” says Elizabeth Redman, an Oshkosh native. “I loved shopping at food co-ops for all of my groceries, so I think it’s a wonderful way to have a member owned grocery store and have a lot of great options as well.”
Although a future Oshkosh co-op is nearly 600 members short of its opening goal they can officially start looking for a location once they hit 750 members.
Profits are put back into the store and more members could also mean more business.
“This is really about trying to grow the local food economy,” says Haines. “Co-ops often cause start up activity within the food sector as new businesses launch to offer their products at the co-op.”
“We’re essentially opening a full-service grocery store that will have everything from fresh produce to a meat counter to Diet Coke,” says Redman. “So we’re just building a different model that is more oriented with our community.”
To find out how to become a co-op member you can visit the Oshkosh Food Co-op website using this link.