Resolution Regarding Fiscal Benefits to Member-Ownership

South Philly Food Co-op
Resolution Regarding Fiscal Benefits to Member-Ownership

WHEREAS article 5.1 of the South Philly Food Co-op bylaws grants the Board of Directors the power and duty to direct and oversee the management of the Co-op, establishing written policies and procedures;

WHEREAS the Board of Directors wishes to offer its member-ownership greater clarity regarding the mutually beneficial financial relationship between member-owners and the South Philly Food Co-op;

WHEREAS trends in the food co-op field suggest that co-ops should adopt patronage refund models and, if desired, occasional and flexible (rather than standing) discounts for its member-owners;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Board intends for the South Philly Food Co-op to offer its member-ownership fiscal benefits through patronage refunds and through flexible (rather than standing) in-store discounts.

In a patronage refunds model, the Board of Directors will approve a certain percentage of profits (in years the Co-op is profitable) to return to the Co-op’s member-owner households, proportional to what they have spent in the store since the previous refund. The Board reserves the right to choose not to allocate a refund and instead retain the capital for expansion or development opportunities in service to the member-ownership.

Flexible in-store discount options include member-owner appreciation days, special prices on selected products, coupons, special orders, case discounts, and more. The General Manager will be responsible for implementing the in-store discount program(s) for member-owners, with support and oversight from the Board of Directors.

The South Philly Food Co-op Board of Directors is permitted to null or modify the terms of this resolution at any point in time.


Fall 2017 Architecture Update

At last week’s General Membership Meeting, the Co-op’s member-owners had the opportunity to see the plans for the store’s design in a presentation from Mike Cronomiz of Re:Vision Architecture.  Re:Vision Architecture, which was hired by the Co-op to design the store space early this year, is a green architecture firm specializing in sustainability.  Throughout the planning process, they received feedback from UNFI, as well as members of several other local co-ops, to optimize the layout and design of the space.

The Co-op will be 3,300 square feet, approximately 100 feet deep and 33 feet wide, with two point of sale systems at the front of the store.  It will also include two bathrooms, walk-in storage, a food-prep area, shipping and receiving, a staff office and break room, and a bulk foods section.  The floors above the Co-op will be occupied by eight apartments.

These renderings mark an important step forward in the Co-op’s construction- the Real Estate Committee scouted over 80 locations before signing the lease at 2031 S. Juniper!  Help us begin construction by becoming a member-owner, investing in the Co-op through our Member-Owner Note Program, or making a Capital Campaign donation.

Check out some of Re:Vision's renderings below:




Read more

Asking Friends + Family to Join Us on Juniper: A Co-op Cheat Sheet

If your South Philly neighbors are still in the "not-yet-member" camp, here are a few tips and tricks to help you persuade them to come on board. Just copy, paste and personalize!

Thanks in advance for your support in helping us grow!


Via email:

Hi [your friend's name],

Hope you're having a great week! I'm writing because I know you haven't yet joined the South Philly Food Co-op, and I wanted to send you my pitch for why you should sign up today. Here goes:

Did you know the Co-op has signed a lease at 2031 S. Juniper St. in the heart of South Philly? I'm really excited about this location because [name some reasons that matter to you, like its proximity to the subway, easy walking distance from Passyunk Avenue, accessibility by bike, etc.], and I hope you are, too.

I'm also excited because finding a location means the Co-op is moving forward with its mission to use food as a force for good. But what does that mean? Well, breaks it down into a set of seven core beliefs:

  1. South Philly is an awesome place to call home. [Feel free to expand upon what some of these beliefs mean to you personally!]
  2. A vibrant community embraces people from all walks of life.
  3. Healthy, wholesome food should be accessible to all.
  4. Our food choices have an impact on the people and world around us.
  5. Investing in our community has the power to make a big impact.
  6. The fewer miles food has to travel, the better.
  7. We are more than just a store.

I don't know about you, but those are my beliefs, too. 

Membership costs $200 -- and that's a one-time commitment, not an annual one. And you can pay it in quarterly installments of as little as $25! Plus, it covers everyone in your household, so your membership also extends to [list family members, pets and other animate objects!]. Member-owners will quite literally be owners of our business, eligible to vote on everything from who's on our Board of Directors to what's on our shelves. That's democracy at work!

The most important reason you should sign up today? The longer it takes us to raise our start-up capital (roughly $1 million to open our doors), the more we may need to pay in rent before we're able to start bringing in revenue. So as we set our sights on a 2018 grand opening, we can't stress enough that every dollar really does count.  

Last but not least, the Co-op hosts all sorts of fun events, as well as two general membership meetings every year. So if you join, we'll get to see each other more often! 

OK, so that's my pitch. I hope it worked! Click here to sign up today, and please let me know if you do so I can buy you a thank-you [insert favorite beverage here].

Cooperatively yours,



Via social media:

I'm a member of the @spfoodcoop because [insert short reason here! Some ideas: "I believe in healthy food access" / "community investment can make a big impact" / "I want to get involved with my community" / "I think food can be a force for good"]. Join me today:

(And, because we all know social posts do better with photos, here's a great one!)



A Challenge For All Of Us

September is a big month with big goals here at the Co-op. Right now, we have an amazing opportunity to meet those goals: If we can get $10,000 in new member-owner loans by the end of September, we have an extremely committed Board member who is willing to match those loans, dollar-for-dollar.

That means...



You can make a loan to the Co-op in the amount of $1,000 or more, and receive 0, 2, or 4% interest back over 6, 8, or 10 years -- your choice, in any combination. Make your pledge today, and someone from our capital campaign team will follow up with you.

Member loans are a way for member-owners like you to deepen their financial investment in the Co-op and help finance our journey to store opening. Your loan will be repaid with interest after we’re open, which is a major win-win! Visit our FAQ about member loans, or make your pledge today.

Our Board and volunteers are working hard to get us to store opening -- but we’ll only get there if member-owners like you contribute, too. This match from our dedicated Board member is an incredible opportunity to unlock extra funds to help us open our community-owned marketplace in 2018. Help make this a milestone month for the Co-op with your pledge!

Cooperatively yours,

Jessica Calter,
Board President


$340K and counting

Our Capital Campaign has made great progress this summer: We've just passed the 800 member-owner milestone and raised over $340,000. That means we're a third of the way to our overall goal of $1 million -- money we'll need to stock, staff and open our community-owned grocery store.

We couldn't have reached this important milestone without the generosity of our member-owners who have joined the Co-op and made loans through our Member-Owner Note Program. By being a member-owner and making a loan of $1,000 or more, you're  saying you believe in us, in cooperative enterprise, and in an economically thriving and self-sustaining South Philly.

To reach our goal, we need more member-owners to become local lenders today. Have questions? You can read some frequently asked questions, or email us so we can walk you through the process. 

If you're not already, we invite you to become a member-owner today

Last week, Board Members Anna Kisiel, Jessica Calter, and Leigh Goldenberg offered a great primer on the nuts and bolts of our Capital Campaign and what we need to open the doors on the South Philly Food Co-op. If you weren't able to tune in to our lunchtime Facebook Live, you can check out the archive:


The Co-op is your store -- and if you ever have questions about the state of the Co-op or the Capital Campaign and can't find what you're looking for on our website, you can always drop us a line.


Food Justice and Equity

The Food Justice and Equity Committee seeks to ensure that the South Philly Food Co-op is an accessible, welcoming, and valuable community institution for the widest range of neighborhood residents and stakeholders possible. Primarily in an advisory capacity to the Board of Directors, the Food Justice and Equity Committee will make recommendations for and drive implementation of policies, programs, and initiatives that support this vision.

The Food Justice and Equity Committee will be convened on a monthly basis.

Early goals include:
  • Conduct the Co-op CARE Initiative with community groups and leaders to understand the barriers to being a customer and/or member-owner of the Co-op and perspectives on how to mitigate them; learn about the myriad ways the Co-op could be a programmatic resource to various communities and organizations in South Philly; assess the level of cultural and linguistic accessibility of the Co-op; make recommendations to the Board to improve in all of these areas, based on the findings.
  • Develop the long-term purpose, goals, and governance of the committee, codify them in writing, and seek Board approval for FY 18 in the form of the adoption of a resolution or amendment to the bylaws to recognize the Committee's existence.
  • Inform goals and priorities to guide the hiring of a General Manager.
  • Engage more businesses owned by women, people of color, and immigrants in the Shop South Philly Program.
  • Recruit candidates for the South Philly Food Co-op’s Board of Directors who are representative of the community.
  • Provide ongoing education to the Co-op community about the cooperative enterprise and its role in economic empowerment and anti-racist efforts.

If you are interested in participating in the Food, Justice and Equity Committee, please fill out our volunteer survey.


How do we build a store? How far along are we?

If you're reading this, you probably know how excited we are (and how excited we hope you are!) about our soon-to-be store at 2031 S. Juniper Street. We wanted to dive deeper and explain the key phases of our store building process -- and where we are in it.


We're grateful to our friends at Kensington Community Food Co-op for breaking down the journey to store opening for start-up food co-ops. Through it all, for us at the South Philly Food Co-op, we know we're in good hands with Watchdog, a premier Philadelphia firm who came on board pro bono to provide project management support.

So what do those phases involve?

Timeline to Opening

We brought on board to our project team Re:Vision, a mission-driven Philadelphia architecture firm, who is designing our store. Re:Vision has been hard at work as has completed our initial schematic designs. UNFI, a leader in natural and organic foods, brought grocery-store design expertise to collaborate on the store layout the equipment for the store. We are also getting early cost estimates on our designs to ensure we are staying within our budget.

Schematic Design Collage

This phase has a lot going on including applications for permits, construction contracting, and more! Right now, we are in the process of confirming who our general contractor will be. The general contractor will oversee the store fit-out process, working closely with our Board of Directors and Re:Vision to ensure we stay within our budget. Right now, our space is basically a vanilla shell. 

We need to put in shelves, walls, the front door set-up you see above, and more. The contractor will also bring on board the subcontractors with expertise in the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and other systems. This is when we will finalize our construction contract and solidify our project budget. 

Also, during this phase, our Board of Directors will select a General Manager to oversee operations at the store. Our hiring process is moving along as planned. It has been energizing to meet so many qualified candidates who align to our mission!

This phase signifies that we are about to jump into the construction process -- and it's a time to celebrate! Be on the lookout for a big event in the fall.  

This is go-time for our general contractor and their team. Renovating our space on S. Juniper Street will take about 4-6 months. During this time, you'll notice some changes on the exterior of the building, though most work will go towards fitting out the interior space from floor to ceiling and installing equipment. During this phase, our General Manager will also be hard at work on store planning, testing products and selecting vendors, hiring staff, and training them on operations.

At last, the moment we've all been waiting for! We'll celebrate more here, too -- because who can resist a good ribbon cutting?

Wow, that's a big project. How can I help?

Participate in our capital campaign! We are raising $1 million to bring our store to life. We're over a third of the way there. Can you take us further?

Peruse our website to learn more about how you can help, or drop us a line -- we'd love to hear from you!


Income and Expenses: The Nuts and Bolts (...Literally) of Our Capital Campaign

Exciting news: We are a third of the way to our goal of raising $1 million to stock, staff, and build our store! In this high-energy moment of our capital campaign, we figured we'd take a moment to explain where, exactly, the money we raise will go.


While some money will literally be going to nuts and bolts during the store construction phase, here's a more thorough snapshot of our start-up expenses:
ExpensesWhat goes into each slice of those expenses?

  • Architect, Engineers, & Consultants: We are bringing in experts to make sure we plan and design properly. We've contracted with Re:Vision, a mission-driven Philadelphia architecture firm, that will tap structural engineering expertise as needed. We also previously partnered with United Natural Foods (UNFI) to design our store layout. Find out more about our full project team.
  • Store Build-Out: We need to stock the shelves for opening day! This includes the labor costs and basic construction materials, which will be managed through our general contractor.
  • Equipment: Refrigerators, shelves, and cash registers -- oh my! Take a look at the grocery store where you currently shop, and imagine all the food products are gone. What remains is what we'll need to purchase for the Co-op!
  • Inventory & Working Capital: We need to stock the shelves for opening day, and pay our employees! Plus, we need to have cash to have on hand for, well, anything that may come up in a new business.
  • Startup Staffing: These monies cover wages for our General Manager and store staff for the first handful of months once the store is open.
  • Operating & Administration: These costs are things like our website hosting, bookkeeping and tax preparation, insurance, business licensing, etc.


Of course, we need to raise the other two thirds of that money in order to spend it! So where will this $1 million come from? After years of collaboration and consultation about start-up operations with local and national co-ops alike, here's what we're projecting:
If you are a member-owner, you have already contributed toward that 23% slice of the pie -- of member-owner equity. Thank you! Member-owner equity is an ownership stake in the South Philly Food Co-op. Member-ownership is what makes us a cooperative and is the foundation of our business success. (If you are not yet a member-owner, we invite you to learn more and consider joining today).

Another main source of funds is member-owner loans through the Co-op’s member-owner note program. This program offers a unique social investing opportunity to member-owners of the Co-op.  Similar to a loan -- member-owners make an investment, and the South Philly Food Co-op is responsible for paying you back (with interest, if the member-owner wishes) over 6, 8, or 10 years. Thus far, we have raised $120,000 in member-owner loans! Huge, huge thanks to everyone who has made or pledged a loan to date.

Many co-ops nationwide have solicited member loans for major capital projects, aligning with the third co-operative principle of member economic participation. You can learn more about member loans on our website.


In case you missed it, board member Leigh Goldenberg and capital campaign manager Cate Murray went on Facebook Live a couple weeks ago to answer questions about the Co-op and our capital campaign. You can watch their 15-minute conversation here.

Have more questions about our future store at 2031 S. Juniper Street or the capital campaign? Peruse our website or drop us a line -- we'd love to hear from you!


Food, Justice, Equity -- A Co-op for All South Philly

Co-operators around the world are celebrating the theme of inclusion today during the United Nations International Day of Co-operatives

No One Left Behind

Our goal as the South Philly Food Co-op is truly to be be a hub for community and food-centric education, south of South, river to river--and that means ensuring that the South Philly Food Co-op is an accessible, welcoming, and valuable community institution.

Our recently convened Food Justice and Equity Committee, is leading this charge through our Co-op Community Accountability, Responsiveness, and Equity (CARE) Initiative.

We are listening to community groups and leaders to better understand potential barriers to being a customer or member-owner of the Co-op and gain perspective on how we can support wider inclusion and participation. The committee is also seeking to engage more businesses owned by women, people of color, and immigrants to the Shop South Philly program, recruit candidates for the Board of Directors who are representative of the community, and provide ongoing education to the Co-op community about cooperative enterprise and its role in economic empowerment and anti-racist efforts.

If you are interested in volunteering with this or any of our volunteer committees, fill out our volunteer form!


Last week, board member Leigh Goldenberg and our capital campaign manager Cate Murray went on Facebook Live to answer questions about the Co-op and the Capital Campaign.

The campaign, which kicked off just over a month ago is in great shape! Thanks to our supporters we've received $25,000 in member loan pledges just since Thursday! We've had some wonderful and inspiring conversations with our member-owners about our member loan program

Facebook Live

If you aren't already a member-owner, it's easy to join online. If you have questions about the store--at 2031 S. Juniper Street--or the Capital Campaign, you can find a lot of information on our website, or you can always email

Thanks for all that you do.


Fall 2016 General Membership Meeting Recap


  • Watchdog Project Managers has generously offered pro bono services to the Co-op, and we are pleased to have our long-time real estate committee member Natalie representing us professionally.
  • We are continuing to make progress on the real estate front. We announced at our spring meeting that we were further along in the real estate search than ever before--and that continues to be the case. Rest assured when we do have a location to announce, our members will be the first to know.
  • Peter Frank, executive director of the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance, gave us an update on yesterday’s City Council hearing on cooperative business. They are asking the city to set aside $2 million to provide technical assistance to Co-ops and seed a loan fund that will help spur successful cooperative development citywide.

We also want to give special thanks to the Aquinas Center for being our gracious hosts for the evening, to John Vena Produce for providing the gooseberries and other fresh fruit and vegetable snacks, and to Sole Kombucha for the delicious samples (may we recommend that you visit our Shop South Philly partner, Vin Cafe, and try the apple cider pumpkin spice--you won’t regret it.)

Other reminders:

  • Members, there is no time like the present to get current on your equity payments! If you have questions, e-mail
  • You can still support the Co-op through our coffee program--we receive up to 50% of the sales of each 1lb bag of South Philly Blend. Order online today!
  • If you are interested in getting more involved with the Co-op, we have volunteer opportunities with our membership, outreach, and marketing committees. Fill out our volunteer interest survey online and we'll match your interests with a committee. You can also e-mail

Thanks again to everyone who joined us.