By Janene Lang
The new Farm2Table Co-op & Café plans to locate its member-owned grocery store within Fond du Lac’s ‘food desert’, which includes North Main Street and part of South Main as well. Mary McCutcheon, who serves on both the Farm2Table and FDL Center for Spirituality and Healing boards says, “This will address the needs of people in that area who have no access to healthy food.” McCutcheon explains the problem further saying, “People are using Kwik Trip for their local grocery store in that area.”
This is consistent with what the USDA says about food deserts: lack of healthy and varied food choices. The USDA defines a food desert as “urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food.” The USDA’s website explains, “Instead of supermarkets and grocery stores, these communities may have no food access or are served only by fast food restaurants and convenience stores that offer few healthy, affordable food options.” This lack of access to groceries concludes the USDA, “contributes to a poor diet and can lead to higher levels of obesity and other diet-related diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.” Food deserts are also defined by low-income thresholds.
The Farm2Table Co-op & Cafe' will be a member-owned grocery store and café’ located in the downtown Fond du Lac district and will feature local, organic, sustainably and responsibly produced items. Its mission will be to promote a healthy, vibrant community by providing fresh, nutritious, and fairly-priced goods and services while supporting local and organic suppliers. Membership will not be required to shop at the store but members will receive special discounts.
Dr. Michael Ketterhagen, a board member of both The Fond du Lac Center for Spirituality and Healing as well as Farm2Table Co-op & Café, explains, “The ultimate goal of the Co-op is to open a community-owned grocery store in order to offer both non-perishables and fresh produce on a daily basis at affordable prices.” Ketterhagen further explains, “A final phase of the project is to add a café to the grocery store for those wishing to have a nutritious and tasty meal while on lunch break or out with friends – soups, salads, and sandwiches will be featured.”
The Center for Spirituality and Healing currently sponsors the Grain of Wheat Food Buying Club, an online food co-op. Members can order a wide assortment of natural and organic foods, beverages, personal care items and supplements at a discount. Orders are placed online and delivered to the Center for pick-up every 4 weeks. The new Farm2Table Co-op grocery store will provide many more fresh food options and will be available to both members and non-members. Co-op membership options will be between $25 and $200 and include Annual and Lifetime options. According to its literature, Farm2Table also plans to offer classes and nurture mutually beneficial relationships within the community including partnerships with schools, healthcare, and civic organizations.
This month, together with the Marian University Social Justice Committee, Farm2Table Co-op & Cafe' will present "The Benefits of Cooperatives and Membership." The event will feature keynote speaker Pamela Mehnert, Executive Director of Outpost Natural Foods Cooperative of Milwaukee. “The Benefits of Cooperatives and Membership” event will be held Monday, March 16 from 6:30-8:00 PM in Room T-212 in the Stayer Center at Marian University, 45 S. National Ave, Fond du Lac WI 54935-4621. Participants at event can sample some of the grocery products that are available through the current Grain of Wheat Food Buying Club and learn about food co-operatives and the benefits of memberships. There will be a Question/Answer time as well as an opportunity to join the Farm2Table Co-op by becoming a member before the doors open.
For more information on the Farm2Table Co-Op & Cafe' visit their Facebook page