What is the Johnson City Food Co-op Interest Group?
The Johnson City Food Co-op Interest Group was founded by Sam Jones in December 2014 as an extension project of the committee she chaired, Livable Communities. Jodi Jones has served as Chair of the Interest Group since January 2015.
The working mission/vision for Johnson City Food Co-op Interest Group is to develop a cooperatively-owned, downtown food store that would provide quality local and bulk foods as well as convenience items for one-stop shopping. We want it to build community by contributing to a livable downtown and supporting a healthy lifestyle for everyone.
Since a visit to Three Rivers Market in April 2015, the Interest Group has focused its efforts on a collaboration with that cooperative. Three Rivers Market is a very successful cooperative, the only one in Tennessee, with a membership of over 7,300 East Tennesseans. Working together, we can strengthen East Tennessee’s local, healthy food system. We signed a Memorandum of Understanding in March 2016 to establish our working relationship.
What is a food co-op?
Cooperatives are member-owned, member-governed businesses that operate for the benefit of their members according to common principles agreed upon by the international cooperative community. In co-ops, members pool resources to bring about economic results that are unobtainable by one person alone. Most simply put, a cooperative is a business:
- voluntarily owned by the people who use it, and
- operated for the benefit of its members.
Co-ops can be organized for the benefit of consumers, producers and workers and operate in almost all areas. Most food co-ops are consumer cooperatives, which means that they are owned by the people who shop at the stores. Unlike their conventional counterparts, co-ops are rooted in principles like community, voluntary and open membership, economic participation and cooperation. Because of these principles and practices, food co-ops inherently serve and benefit the communities where they are located.