Grocery Store Offers Healthy Food In Exchange For Volunteer Time

2_Grocery-Store_Volunteer-For-DiscountBy Amanda Froelich

Here’s a grocery store model more food markets should adopt!

Earlier this summer, a unique non-profit grocery store opened its doors in Minneapolis with the aim to help low-income residents afford healthy groceries. Founded by a former pastor of 14 years, the food market has adopted a new version of a traditional co-op model and is benefiting many families in the area.

As Twin Cities Daily Planet reports, the store is offering reduced prices on goods in exchange for volunteer work, in the hopes that good quality, nutritious food will be more available to all.

Founded by Kurt Vickman, the food market exists to help address and fix food insecurity in the area.

Said Vickman:

When people are poor, others don’t look at them as being able to contribute. But, everyone has something to contribute. Here they can feel proud instead of walking into … [a charity food shelf] with their heads down.

When you mosey through the store’s aisles, you’ll notice that all items are marked with two prices: one for volunteers and one for non-members. To receive the 25% discount on regular prices, customers must sign up for a membership that commits them to a certain task or chore. Vickman assures Insight News that there’s plenty of work for everyone who desires to take part.

Volunteers can take on jobs like bagging and stocking, or offer skills and services such as painting and repairs. They must also commit to two and a half hours per month.

The former pastor was inspired to start Good Grocer after the only food market in the Lyndale and Whittier areas of Minneapolis, Minnesota closed, leaving residents with few healthy options.

At first, Vickman opened a food shelf with the help of a few members from his church, but with that venture came quite a few challenges. One issue was that the food shelves could provide users with 10 – 20% off their food, but for the rest of their groceries, they would have to pay full price. He noticed many people struggling to pay for their groceries and knew there had to be a better method to help all.

Kurt was inspired to create a space that fits somewhere between food shelf and full-priced grocery. That’s when the Good Grocer was born.

At present, there are about 375 members with the food market, and both volunteer parents and non-member customers can benefit from Good Grocer’s free childcare every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The grocery store was able to grow its business model, reduce employment costs, and benefit the local area thanks to donations from corporate partnerships and financial supporters.

The Good Grocer strives to emphasize the importance for fresh produce in a healthy diet, but more importantly aims to restore dignity to all people.

 “We want to provide dignity where people are contributors,” Vickman told Twin Cities Daily Planet. “We want to offer, not a hand out but a hand up.”

What are your thoughts on this positive news? Comment below and share this article!

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