Co-op's $20K Grant Supports Local Food Systems

The $20,000 donation is presented to Milwaukee Mayor, Tom Barrett (center, holding check), by Outpost Natural Foods General Manager, Pam Mehnert (holding check on left). Photo credit: Paul Sloth

On October 15, 2014, Outpost Natural Foods, a consumer-owned co-op of over 20,500 individuals in the metro Milwaukee area, granted the City of Milwaukee Office of Sustainability’s “HOME GR/OWN Milwaukee” with a check for $20,000 to be earmarked for neighborhood initiatives that transform vacant or abandoned city lots and spark economic development and entrepreneurship around local, healthy food production. The move is part of an overall 10 year success strategy for the co-op that envisions five main objectives: lively neighborhood markets, dynamic local food systems, sustainable solutions, strong community partners and amazing places to work.

Outpost Community Relations Director Margaret Mittelstadt says the grant is an important component of growing the co-op’s vision of a sustainable future around food for the city and the region. “Creating a dynamic local food system helps put ‘local’ on the map for area growers and producers. At Outpost, we think this is vitally important not only as we continue to grow as a grocery retailer that makes offering local goods a primary driver for doing good business, but perhaps even more important, local food systems can be a means to build a vibrant food network of sustainability for the future.” She adds that food production is a jobs creator, stimulating the local economy and providing opportunities for growth and expansion.

The 44-year-old co-op already attributes around 32% of its overall retail sales to local and regionally produced foods. They hope to increase that percentage to 75%, with 50% of that coming from within 100 miles, by the year 2022.

Funds will be accepted and administered by the Milwaukee Economic Development Corps on behalf of the city’s program.