Co-op-ing the Northside 

Who says you have to be local to support a food co-op on Missoula’s Northside? Recently someone from Great Falls called the North-Missoula Community Development Corp. (NMCDC) asking for directions to the co-op, a project in the works that will provide the Northside—and anyone who wants to shop there (including Great Falls residents)—with a small grocery store.

Though the group is still searching for a Northside building to house the co-op, an April 21 membership drive at Whittier School at 7 p.m. aims to bring 600 members—and their $125 membership fees—on board to help raise the capital to buy inventory and pay rent. Elizabeth Macasaet, an NMCDC board member, says the store will open in six months to a year, and grants and a sliding scale will help offset fees for low-income members. In addition to the fee, members will be asked to volunteer a few hours a month to stocking or working the register, which will help keep the collective costs down.

The store will stock locally grown produce and other goods when it can, Macasaet says, which will benefit not only the co-op members but also small local producers who can’t supply the larger grocery stores in town. Besides produce, the store will sell bulk dry goods and other items—and member input will determine what kinds of products are carried, she says.

Once the store is up and running, the group hopes to make it more of a community center by adding on a deli, hosting job training and providing a meeting room.

Bob Oaks, executive director of NMCDC, says the store will fill a void in the community that neighbors—not just those on the Northside—have been clamoring for.

“It’s becoming more and more clear to me that people are just as hungry for community as they are for the nutritious foods they would like to be available,” he says.

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