Since the founding of the South Philly Food Co-op in 2010, 300+ members have invested time and equity toward the establishment of a member-owned grocery store that will provide nutritious food to all South Philadelphia residents.
The impact of those investments has just been significantly amplified thanks to a major grant from The Reinvestment Fund, a national leader in the financing of neighborhood-revitalization projects. The South Philly Food Co-op has been awarded a $25,000 Food Access Grant â€” a huge vote of confidence in the mission and leadership of the South Philly Food Co-op, an assurance that the large majority of its membersâ€™ investments will go directly to opening the store, and a giant boost for what the co-op will be able to accomplish in the immediate future.
â€œThis grant and TRFâ€™s support is fantastic validation for 29 months and literally thousands of hours of work by our all-volunteer group of committee, board and community members,â€ said Alison Fritz, president of the South Philly Food Co-op Board of Directors. â€œThis funding will help us take a HUGE step forward in developing the talent, systems, capital and vision necessary for the success of the Co-op.â€
This award is part of a larger trend of co-op expansion in the Greater Philadelphia area. TRF has awarded food access grants of $25,000 each to the South Philly Food Co-op and the Kensington Community Food Co-op. For the leaders of these two start-up organizations, these grants together represent the commitment of a major funder to Phillyâ€™s growing cooperative movement and the movementâ€™s focus on healthy-food access. Food co-op development has been bolstered by the rise of regional associations like the Mid-Atlantic Food Cooperative Alliance, to which the South Philly Food Co-op and KCFC belong, along with two of Philly’s established co-op groceries, Mariposa Food Co-op and Weavers Way Co-op.
For the South Philly Food Co-op, the grant comes on the heels of its successful South Philly Garden Tour fund raiser, which yielded over $3,500 in net proceeds and 10 new members on the day of the tour. Those 10 new applicants have brought the South Philly Food Co-op up to 305 total member-owners, bringing it ever closer to another important membership milestone of 400, at which point the Co-op will begin to secure a loan toward the establishment of a storefront.
More details about this grant as well as other updates about the Co-opâ€™s progress toward opening its doors will be topics when the South Philly Food Co-op holds its fall membership meeting on Thursday, Oct. 25, 6-7:45 p.m. at the Edward Oâ€™Malley Athletic Association in Pennsport (on Moore Street between Front and 2nd). Members â€” and those interested in becoming members â€” are encouraged to attend. For more information on becoming a member of the South Philly Food Co-op, visit southphillyfoodcoop.org.