On this edition of the Portage Health Foundation Podcast we welcomed Curt Webb from the Keweenaw Co-op. Webb has been with the Co-op for more than two decades and has been working with their board to create a vision for a better future. “We’re hoping we celebrate our 50th anniversary in a new location,” Webb said. They’ve been in their current location since 1987, but it has some major limitations with visibility, parking, and simply the size of the shopping area. A new location is being explored right on Quincy Street in downtown Hancock at the former location of Bruno’s Motors. “We want a modern location that is bright and welcoming to expand our reach into the community."
While the future of the Co-op is exciting, it’s also vital to the growth of the local food system as a whole. More space would mean more ability to bring in local farmers and offer more local food options. That’s been an area of growth for the Co-op for some time now. “Demand still outpaces the supplies,” Webb said. “It’s definitely growing. Over the time (I’ve been in the industry), we’ve seen some of the farmers take themselves out of the food system, but fortunately there have been more folks coming along - young folks and otherwise - seeing opportunities and starting out. Those gaps that were left by retiring farmers have been filled and we’re exceeding that now.”
The Co-op currently sees roughly 25-30 percent of its produce coming from Michigan during peak season, which works out because it makes the grocery store eligible to particiate in the Double Up Food Bucks program. That program allows people purchasing food with their Bridge Card to double their buying power. It’s been an area of growth for the Co-op since it was added, and it’s available 12 months a year for Co-op shoppers.