Cooperatively Owned Food Stores

common ground coop kidsLEAF provides financing nationally to natural food cooperatives that create jobs and provide access to healthy food in rural and urban communities. In addition to these benefits, food co-ops bring the following to the communities they serve:

Living Wage Jobs: Coops pay wages and benefits that are well above industry averages and offer a higher percentage of full-time employment.

Environmental Stewardship: Coops actively recycle, compost, and spearhead energy efficiency initiatives.  75% of the Energy Star rated grocery stores are food coops.

Healthy Food Education: Coops provide their members and the community at large with cooking classes, school programs and other classes related to eating healthy.  For instance, The Midwest Food Connection, a non-profit organization providing healthy eating habits instruction to school children, is largely funded by food coops.

Local Economy Superstars: Coops support local economies and local farmers through their purchasing decisions.  On average 22% of gross sales are locally produced at coops versus 7% for other grocery stores.

radish and mezz viewAccording to the Food Coop Initiative, a non-profit that focuses on start up food co-ops, 63 new coops have opened since 2006 and 102 new coops are currently in the development stage. Of the 300 food coops across the country, each year more than a dozen require financing for significant expansion or relocation projects. As one of only three CDFIs in the nation that has developed expertise in lending to the community-owned grocery store market, LEAF is able to step in and provide loans to these valuable community assets.

Read more about LEAF client, Fairbanks Co-op Market Grocery & Deli or download an info sheet about them. You can also watch a video about LEAF borrower, New Orleans Food Co-op.