• New group working to start a Sitka Food Co-Op

A new group will meet from 3-5 p.m. on Sunday, July 10, at Balanced Practice yoga/massage studio (208-B Lake St.) to discuss the creation of a Sitka Food Co-Op.

“We are just getting ready to have our first meeting to gather up those interested in being part of a start-up committee, so our goals and ideas will change as we are more clear on what is wanted by the community,” said Ann Betty, who is coordinating the project. “But as of right now, we want to provide a place where locals can sell their goods and a place where we can buy bulk goods for a great price. In the future, we would like to be a full-scale retail co-op, and that will come after much time and research. Right now, we are very new and just getting our ideas together.”

Ann said people are welcome to join the steering committee, and she started an e-mail list and blog site to update people on the project. She asked that people interested in the project can e-mail her at sitkafoodcoop@gmail.com or like the Sitka Food Co-Op page on Facebook.

“Please look over the information below to see how you can be most helpful in this great endeavor,” Ann said. “This initial meeting will go a long way in organizing our efforts to be a valuable community asset. Please respond by email if you will be attending this meeting, or if you can’t and would still like to be a committee member.”

FYI: The Co-op Start-up Steering Committee

The steering committee is responsible for moving the co-op through its early stages, until more formal structures can be established. Depending on time and resources, the committee may do the following tasks itself or assign these tasks to outside professionals:

  • Research and gather information
  • Conduct a preliminary feasibility study
  • Survey potential members
  • Establish a membership structure
  • Recruit members
  • Explore options for financing
  • Pursue initial inquiries with financing agencies
  • Report on progress to members
  • Hold membership meetings as needed
  • Prepare a business plan
  • Coordinate publicity and public relations concerning the co-op

Subcommittees might include:

  • A planning committee to conduct a feasibility study; research locations and eventually handle real estate negotiations; research equipment sources, local regulations, and suppliers; and coordinate preparation of a business plan
  • A finance committee to develop financial projections, research funding options, and coordinate a campaign for member loans
  • A membership committee to research membership structures, prepare information about the co-op and the paperwork needed for membership administration, coordinate recruitment of new members, organize membership communications (newsletters, websites, letters) and meetings, survey members, and plan outreach to the community

Keep in mind that certain committee tasks require a level of confidentiality, responsibility, and follow-up. Depending on what you need people to do, be clear about roles and ensuring accountability.

For more information about food co-ops, please visit the sites http://www.cgin.coop/ or http://www.foodcoopinitiative.coop/resources/toolbox. The Food Co-Op Initiative also produced a short video about starting a food co-operative in your community.

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