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Willmar, Minn., Community-Owned Grocery holds annual event

WILLMAR -- Member-owners of the Willmar Community-Owned Grocery elected three new board members at their first annual meeting July 10 at Robbins Island Park in Willmar.

Shirley Carter, Jennifer Klatt and Chuck Roelofs were chosen to serve three-year terms on the board of directors.

About 60 people attended the annual meeting, which also included status reports on the progress of the grocery. The guest speaker was Stuart Reid of the Food Cooperative Initiative, which works nationally with organizations to help start successful retail food cooperatives. The Food Cooperative Initiative has provided a start-up grant to the Willmar Community-Owned Grocery.

The Willmar Community-Owned Grocery was launched in 2011 to promote fresh local food, strengthen the local food economy, create a market for producers and increase consumer access to locally grown food. The group's goal is to open a full-service grocery in downtown Willmar that focuses on local food and local producers.

Membership stands at 244. The rate of membership growth has more than tripled within the past three months, according to a Willmar Community-Owned Grocery news release. The goal is to reach 300 member-owners in order to move to the next stage of Willmar Community-Owned Grocery development.

The grocery is working to build membership and increase visibility. It has a website at and a page on Facebook, an electronic newsletter and a weekly booth at the Thursday afternoon Becker Market in downtown Willmar.

Thirty active volunteers serve on the board and on the membership and marketing committees. The grocery has completed its own articles and bylaws and carried out a feasibility study. It is partnering with a national consultant specializing in the start-up of food cooperatives.

For more information about membership or to join the mailing list, visit, find the Willmar Community-Owned Grocery on Facebook or call 320-222-2020.