October is National Co-op month, the perfect opportunity to celebrate the history of your food Co-op. We have strong roots in this community and continue to use those roots as a foundation to meet our Ends and uphold the seven guiding cooperative principles.
A passionate group of students in the 70’s (1974) worked with neighborhood leaders and organized a cooperative food distribution system to provide healthy food to a low income neighborhood in Champaign. It was a $1 to join, co-opers would drive up to WI in a van and load up organic farm direct food to bring it back to distribute.
As food awareness grew, Common Ground’s mission grew. As more community members became part of the Food Co-op for access to things like tofu and brown rice, this spurred the first tiny store to open in an empty basement room at the IDF on the corner of Springfield and Wright.
The 90’s brought more of the structure you see today at Common Ground. The Board of Directors began to hire paid staff and created policies to insure the Co-op would stay financially stable and the Co-op started to forge relationships with farmers that still provide food for the Co-op today.
In 2008 came the Big Move: with incredible support from the community of Co-op owners Common Ground moved out of the IDF basement and into the storefront you know today at Lincoln Square and doubled the store footprint. Another big change took place at this time; we became open to the public, to better reach those looking for healthy food options, and increase our community impact
That move ignited the growth you see today. We expanded again in 2012, another doubling of the store size and staff size, and the ability to impact the community in ways that seem unbelievable to the staff members that remember the church basement days such as the development of 2 unique programs to Common Ground: our Food For All program and Round Up for Good program.