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The Scarlet & Black

Local Foods Coop Splits

The Local Foods Coop, a volunteer-run organization that supports the Grinnell area economy by selling food grown on local farms, will no longer exclusively operate on the Grinnell College campus. Recently, the Coop (pronounced co-op), which was comprised of College students, faculty and staff, as well as a few community members, has decided to split into a student-run group and a community business. The business will be called Local Food Source and is scheduled to start distribution on June 5, while the student group, the Local Foods Network, has already begun meeting and putting on programming this semester.

On the business end, Jordan Scheibel ’09.5, a local vegetable farmer, and Angela Winburn, a livestock farmer in Grinnell and an Academic Support Assistant at the College, joined forces to create the Local Food Source in the community.

Prior to starting the Local Food Source, the two had been involved in the Local Foods Coop and managed its distributions and orders. With participation in the coop being highly variable from year-to-year and with having to train new students often, they decided that it would be in the best interests of the students and community to have a business which was separate from the student-run activities on campus.

“Over the time that I was involved in the Coop, we saw the turnover year to year,” Scheibel said. “It was a lot of work to always have that turnover, and at the same time things were falling through: orders not being picked up and we wouldn’t always have things where we thought they’d be.”

Prior to this semester, the Coop existed solely on campus and was not readily open to community members. According to Scheibel, this inaccessibility was problematic because during the summer months when students were not on campus, the coop was not as active. This, along with the fluctuating student participation, engendered Scheibel and Winburn’s decision to take the idea of the Coop into town.

“Angela and I got together because we had been involved for the longest and we felt like we were the ones with the vested interest. We made the decision [to split] and then we talked to the students about it in the fall [of 2013] and got everyone on board,” Scheibel explained.

On the students’ side of things, Sophie Neems ’16 and Maddie Howland ’16 are the co-coordinators of the Local Foods Network on campus.

“We were a little bit surprised as a group at first because of the business and legal ramifications; Jordan and Angela decided and discussed what they were going to do prior to telling us,” Neems said. “In the long run, we are all very supportive of the idea and [are] thinking that it will further the goal of connecting local Grinnell residents with producers by bringing it into town.”

As a student-led group, the Local Foods Network plans to pursue more outreach on campus and also help to maintain the student garden. As a coop, student participation was limited to 10 students, due to the sensitive nature of the Local Foods Coop as a buying club and the financial transactions such an institution required. Therefore, with the split, Howland and Neems anticipate that the Local Foods Network will garner more student involvement.

On Monday, April 21, The Local Foods Network hosted a movie screening of the documentary, “King Corn” at Bob’s.
On Monday, April 21, The Local Foods Network hosted a movie screening of the documentary, “King Corn” at Bob’s.

Currently, the student group is creating new events to promote awareness of food issues, like the screening of a documentary titled “King Corn” at Bob’s last Monday, April 21. They also intend to continue with outreach, as well as older traditions, like the local foods Thanksgiving meal.

The Local Foods Network welcomes interested students to their weekly meetings, which are held at 8 p.m. on Thursdays in JRC 200C.

Starting in June, the Local Food Source will begin distributing local foods. Adopting a similar model to the Local Foods Coop, orders can be placed on their website. Distribution will occur on the first and third Tuesday of each month.

According to Scheibel, the local business will soon set up shop on 1032 Main St., jointly sharing a space with the Purple Cucumber, Grinnell’s newest smoothie shop.

“We are interested in the Local Food Source succeeding, but ultimately we would like it to be something that we could set up and then step back from it. My ultimate goal is not to run two businesses at the same time. I would like to concentrate more on [my farm],” Scheibel explained.

More information about the Local Food Source can be food at their website:

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