From Illinois Business Journal news services
ALTON – Grassroots Grocery, Alton’s local cooperative grocery store, will be holding a grand opening celebration and ribbon cutting ceremony on Sunday, Oct. 25.
The grocery, which provides fresh and local foods and health products, opened its doors on Aug. 22 after reaching its fund-raising goal of $50,000. The nonprofit grocery store is guided by the Community Cultivators, who will distribute baskets, T-shirts, and membership cards at Sunday’s event to the store’s founding members.
The Community Cultivators will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony beginning at 10:30 a.m. featuring brief speeches by the mayor of Alton, the founders of the co-op and members of the community. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. there will be coffee, hot cocoa, cider and snacks outside as well as a pumpkin-painting activity. The event is free to the public.
At 11 a.m., the store will open for normal business hours featuring special item discounts and sales in celebration of the event. There will be extra loaves of fresh bread on hand, new bulk items in stock, and local seasonal items.
“There will be opportunities to learn about the vendors that supply the store with local goods and produce,” said volunteer Christine Favilla. “It is sure to be a fun event for the whole family.”
The store is located at 415 Ridge St. in Alton, a neighborhood classified as a USDA food desert, and is the area’s first cooperatively owned grocery store. It aims to serve neighbors who need access to fresh healthy food and patrons who place a premium on local and organic food.
The store also hopes to be a boon to local farmers and artisans. It carries more than 40 local farmers’ and producers’ products, including health and beauty items as well as produce, dairy, and healthy snacks.
“Any venue trying to connect directly to farmers, and educate the local community about the bounty from their own foodshed is going to provide an invaluable service. I can hardly wait to see how well (Grassroots Grocery( does,” said Blaine Bilyeu of Papa’s Pasture. The Staunton company says it offers individual premium cuts of Berkshire pork from hogs raised on green pasture, without sub therapeutic antibiotics, or growth promoters.
Steve Johnson from Bunkhouse Joe’s in Fieldon echoes the sentiment.
“We are excited to be affiliated with Grassroots and very optimistic that it will be a huge success,” said Johnson.
Bunkhouse Joe’s offers locally roasted organic and fair trade coffee available in bags of ground and whole bean – a perfect fit in Grassroots Grocery. “Our company has grown a local customer base that recognizes the value of local and fresh,” said Johnson.
The store offers classes on fresh foods and how to work with and prepare them, in cooperation with local health and nutrition experts, including one taught by Certified Health Coach, Shirlie Canup. “Great Grains and Healthy Plant Protein” will be offered on Wednesday, Oct. 21, at 5:30, and repeating at 6, and 6:30.
The store is open to the general public, yet it operates as a cooperative grocery, meaning that individuals may become a member-owner of the store. The members can participate in the democratic process of the store while also accessing some of the store’s additional benefits such as a 10 percent discount on purchases and the opportunity to place special orders. Grassroots Grocery will be governed by an Advisory Council elected by the members. Nominations are due Nov. 22.
To learn more visit www.GrassrootsGrocery.org, the page on Facebook, by calling (618) 208-4999 or writing to firstname.lastname@example.org