Why are you interested in serving on the Prairie Food Board of Directors?
Being a cofounder of Prairie Food Co-op and current board President, I have a strong interest and proven dedication in realizing our collective goal of opening Prairie Food Co-op.
I want to strengthen our community by building a grocery store that supports local farmers and local food producers that follow sustainable practices b/c I believe that when we have a relationship with our local farmers we have more influence in deciding how our food is produced and thereby will reward those who meet our demand by providing a market place for them to earn a livelihood.
I want to open a store where all of the food and goods that we offer will be clearly and transparently labeled to the fullest possible extent b/c I believe that consumers should know what is in and on their food in order to make informed choices regarding the health of themselves and their family.
I want to help our local economy. Co-ops are the rising tide that lifts all boats in their community. By purchasing from local farmers and food producers we keep our money in the area and give local producers economic capital which they then spend in our community again. Opening a co-op is one of the best ways to help our local economy.
I want to continue to serve Prairie Food Co-op in my capacity as board member because I know that there is still much to do and I believe that I have been effective in helping us get to where we are today. I want to continue my work on the board to help get us to the finish line.
What experience, education, and skills do you have that you feel will contribute to your effectiveness as a Prairie Food Director?
I have over 20 years of service in the food industry, a quarter of that working in the natural/organic grocery sector. I volunteered as a store worker at Common Ground Food Co-op in Urbana, where I received a ground level education on the day to day operation of a co-op. While there I became familiar with common co-op standards and practices and gained experience working with local food producers.
I also spent significant time at Strawberry Fields Natural Food store, also in Urbana, where I rose to the level of bakery manager and eventually consultant. While working there I continued my natural/organic food education while earning the opportunity to supervise workers under me while I performed other managerial duties such as employee training, food and equipment ordering, maintaining high levels of food safety, and consistently producing attractive and delicious bakery items.
During my tenure at both places my interest and knowledge of food issues grew and I am always learning more. When my wife and I moved to the Lombard area four years ago we were surprised that there were no one-stop shopping options for the locally, naturally, or organically produced food that we had access to when we lived in Urbana. We thought more and more about Common Ground Food Co-op and what a great resource it was to it’s community. We became increasingly knowledgeable about not only what co-ops were, but we also began our research on how communities get co-ops open. After a couple years of living in Lombard we decided to stop complaining and start doing.
After two years of working on the co-op I realize that I have gained an education in community organizing that no college or classroom could have taught me. As cofounder of Prairie Food Co-op, I literally have experience in every single aspect of opening up a food co-op and have gained invaluable experience working with other passionate members of the community. As Prairie Food Co-op has grown I have seen the value of delegating and empowering others by learning how to let go of certain responsibilities when others step up. I recognize that this is a community wide effort and that cooperation with those who share my vision is the fundamental principle underlying Prairie Food Co-op. In comparison with other start-up co-ops I feel we are ahead of the curve and are improving our organization every day. The progress that we have attained at Prairie Food Co-op needs to continue and this is why I feel I can be of valuable service to Prairie Food Co-op.
What else would you like Prairie Food owners to know about you?
I am a proud veteran of the U.S. Army.