The Montana Co-op is modeled after several on-line food co-ops, and we added a few things we think will help our growth. In 2003, the Oklahoma Food Co-op started a unique approach to connect consumers with their local producers. With an equal ownership in the cooperative, they created an on-line marketplace where local products could be ordered and distributed. Together, the consumers and producers share the costs and risks, as well as the benefits of establishing a new community food system in Oklahoma. Currently, the Oklahoma Food Co-op is the largest on-line food co-op in the United States with over 5000 members. The Oklahoma Food Co-op serves almost the entire state with 55 community drop points while selling over 5000 Oklahoma made products. Since its launch, at least 25 other states have started similar operations using the Oklahoma Food Co-op as a model to organize their farm to table system using the internet as a tool and resource. See more details here about how it works.
The Montana Co-op’s mission is to bring together consumers and producers to create easy access to local, nutritious, and affordable food and Montana made products while promoting a sustainable, nurturing, and thriving community.
The Montana Co-op is collaborating to make wholesome, nutritious food more accessible to all people in all communities. When we say "accessible," we mean "easily accessible." This is a huge task that requires a unified plan, and it starts with each of us living in Montana becoming an equal owner of our Montana Co-op for a $20 lifetime investment, and contributing our time, skills, and abilities into developing our Montana Co-op business and Food Hub in our community. Join in now and begin building with us! We're creating work, mentoring youth (Kids Co-op), building our local food economy, and supporting each other along the way. Each Montana Co-op member/owner contributes their skills, time and resources in reaching our common goals. This article explains how a similar cooperative business is working on a similar "food access" project as we are (click here).
Below is a map showing the Oklahoma food delivery locations:
The difference between the Oklahoma Food Co-op and the Montana Co-op:
- The Oklahoma Food Co-op started with selling only food, but now over half of the 5000 'Oklahoma Made' products are non-food items. The Montana Co-op will be promoting and selling non-food products from the beginning.
- The Oklahoma Food Co-op has 48 community 'drop points' throughout Oklahoma. The Montana Co-op has a new concept of turning those 'drop points' into community Food Hubs, where each community works together to develop their own Food Hub and expand services. Learn more about potential Food Hub services (click here).
- The Oklahoma Food Co-op has one ordering period per month which results in several days where shopping is not allowed. The Montana Co-op has a weekly ordering period with 24/7 ordering capability, year round. This will give us the potential to serve our members for most of their food needs with weekly subscriptions for all staple food items (milk, butter, eggs, cheese, bread, meat, etc.) and prepared foods (personalized never-ending salad bar, soups, meals, healthy snacks, etc.).
The Idaho's Bounty Co-op, which is on the same website platform that we are, have been in business for seven years and are growing rapidly. Pretty soon we will be able to order from each other to expand our product offerings and give our local producers the ability to reach more people in our NW region.
Everyone is welcome to shop at the Montana Co-op by purchasing a one-time $20 equity share in the Montana Co-op. The membership also entitles producers to sell their product through the Montana Co-op (some restrictions apply - see Producer Qualifications). As a member, you are also entitled to vote, and have an impact on the future direction of the Montana Co-op. When you are a member here, you are a member all across Montana, so please visit and support Montanan Co-op Food Hubs in other communities during your personal and business travels!
Please join our efforts in creating a Food Hub in your community. Please email info@montanacoop with your interest, ideas and skills. If you need help with a project, we have many willing hands ready to contribute. You can also contact any of our board members or committee leaders for more information. We are community-centered people who really care about our local food system, and we're working collaboratively to create positive change.
The Montana Co-op was founded in 2012, which was proclaimed by the United Nations as "The International Year of the Co-ops." The history of co-ops is an amazing subject to learn about. Most governments around the world, including the United States, understand and see the importance of a cooperative business model; people within communities are working together to make something better (i.e. Food Democracy: article with more description). We have a lot of work to do, including supporting local producers, creating more sustainable jobs, producing and consuming more local products, supporting healthy lifestyle changes, and achieving organizational collaboration in our communities. See the link on our website about "Why Buy Local," that includes research data that shows us what we can achieve.
This is your business, a consumer and producer owned Co-op, that promotes buying locally and supporting our health. By coming together with all of our knowledge, skills, and experience, we will create the change that is needed in our lives, communities and economy.
Each person in this co-op has a “say” in how it operates. We know that buying local product is important, and we need to make it as easy as possible for producers to sell and consumers to buy locally. We’re all partners in helping to create a new local economy and healthy food system. The key ingredient to our success is to pool our resources and skills to create what we need. We have many great examples of groups that are leading the way, such as "Eat Well - Live Well."
If you answer YES to any of the questions below, then you are on the same mission with the Montana Co-op:
- Do you believe that buying locally is important for your community?
- Do you think that maybe you should be eating a little healthier?
- Would you like to see more fun and free exercise opportunities in your community?
- Do you agree that when you spend one dollar buying from a local business, that the dollar circulates an average of five times in the local economy?
- Are you, or do you know of anyone who is looking for work? Send them to the Montana Co-op.
- If you are a local producer, could you use a little help with additional advertising, connections, sales, business support, or distribution?
Do you think we can do a better job with creating "Food Security" for all people in Montana?