Screw City Food Co-op is a community owned and operated grocery store, creating a bridge to reconnect local food and sustainable goods to the greater Rockford Area, meeting the health needs of our diverse community through education, making products/services available and creating community.
We desire to empower Rockford by locking arms to be an asset to our community to change access to food while positively impacting each other TOGETHER!
The 7 Cooperative Principles
1) Voluntary and Open Membership
2) Democratic Member Control
3) Member Economic Participation
4) Autonomy and Independence
5) Education, Training and Information
6) Cooperation among Cooperatives
7) Concern for Community
A food co-op in the Rockford area offers several distinct benefits that traditional grocery stores do not. These benefits include:
- A stronger Rockford-area economy: When you buy food at a chain grocery store, a large majority of that money leaves the neighborhood and goes to stockholders and CEO salaries. Great for them, not so great for us. When you spend money at the Screw City Food Co-op, more of that money stays in the Rockford area. And because co-ops source a far greater proportion of their products locally and employ more people, a co-op will have a bigger impact on the Rockford area economy than a grocer of comparable size would.
- Smarter food choices for your family: Co-ops are known for being pioneers in increasing access to natural and organic foods and promoting transparency when it comes to nutritional labeling. The Screw City Food Co-op will promote sustainable food that is healthy, environmentally sound, humanely produced and that fairly compensates the farmers and producers who grow and process it. Our co-op will set policies to restrict certain ingredients (such as GMOs and corn syrup), highlight product origins, and provide a variety of food options (such as gluten-free products) to help you make smarter food choices.
- More and better jobs: Co-ops offer more full-time jobs than conventional grocers, with competitive wages, affordable health insurance, paid vacation time, incentives, and a participatory management structure that creates high employee morale.
- Earth-friendly practices: Co-ops are good for the planet. In a co-op, we as owners have the ability to influence the store’s environmental policy. As a result, co-ops have been extremely proactive in their efforts to minimize their environmental impact through sustainable business practices, product selection, and education. For example, the average co-op recycles 81% of plastic waste and 74% of food waste versus the average conventional grocery store, which recycles only 29% of plastic waste and 36% of food waste.
- Support for local farmers and artisanal entrepreneurs: One of the biggest obstacles faced by small farmers and artisanal food producers is finding retailers who are willing to sell their products. The limited production volumes of small farms coupled with many retailers’ centralized purchasing constraints keep most large grocers from supporting the local food system in a significant way. On the other hand, co-ops make their purchasing decisions at the store level based on input from their co-owners. This organizational structure enables co-ops to work closely with local growers and producers to establish sustainable business relationships.
- A more prosperous Illinois: Consider this—Less than 5% of the food we buy is produced in Illinois. Because of that, Illinois loses $5 billion each year from its regional economy. Experts estimate that Illinois has the capacity to produce at least 40% of our food right here in our state. If we would buy just 15% of our food from local producers, we could generate $639 million of new income annually. This would go a long way to keep our local farmers and producers in business, expand our regional economy and increase access to fresh and sustainable food.
Come join us! The time it takes to open a new co-op is anywhere from 3-5 years (sometimes a bit longer) and is dependent on many factors: how quickly we build our ownership base, secure a permanent location and financing, and hire a talented General Manager. All of these key pieces must be in place to open the co-op. As you can imagine we encounter both successes and challenges along the way that affect the overall timing of the project.
Since the beginning of our organizing efforts, we have sought out the vast resources available to help new co-ops get off the ground successfully. As the saying goes, “why re-invent the wheel?” The wheel is a development model based on co-ops’ best practices in establishing a new co-op. This model, along with the corresponding support from industry-specific expertise, has guided us and keeps us focused as we navigate through the multi-faceted, complex process of opening a community-owned, full-service grocery store.
Throughout our start-up phase and beyond, we will also look to our owners to learn how we can best serve your needs, which makes the co-op stronger and helps us accomplish our collective mission.
STAGE ONE: ORGANIZE (150 OWNERS)
THIS IS OUR CURRENT STAGE: We are working to sign up 150 co-owners to secure the support and funding necessary to conduct a feasibility study, which will help us determine the co-op’s location and develop a business plan.
Primary feasibility assessed
Community demonstrates support for food co-op
Legal work to prepare for incorporation
Founding board of directors established
Membership systems prepared
Project manager identified
Board, project manager and committees set to work understanding cooperatives, the development model, and committed to working toward long-term success
STAGE 2: FEASIBILITY AND PLANNING (151-400 OWNERS)
Stage 2a Feasibility:
Market study conducted
Contracted with bookkeeper and accountants
Commercial realtor contracted
Broadening ties in community
Stage 2b Planning:
Finalize site evaluation
Business plan and pro forma developed
Plan and prepare to secure site with contingencies
Plan General Manager search process
STAGE 3 IMPLEMENTATION
Stage 3a Preconstruction (400+ Owners)
Stage 3b Construction (More Owners than in Stage 3b)
Stage 3c Opening (More Owners than in Stage 3c)
We’re working to sign up 150 co-owners in 2018 to secure the support and funding necessary to conduct a feasibility study, which will help us determine the co-op’s location and develop a business plan.