- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 7, 2014

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) - Hundreds of people have attended the opening of a food cooperative in Dubuque, a major milestone for organizers who wanted to create a market focusing on local food.

The Dubuque Food Co-op opened its doors to members on Monday, the Telegraph Herald reported (https://bit.ly/1lYKboH ). The public is also encouraged to shop there, and a grand opening for the community will be held in late May or early June.

The 6,000-square-foot facility offers items found in traditional grocery stores, but there is a greater emphasis on organic foods and locally grown products. Co-op marketing coordinator Sandra Gonzales-Denham said 1,500 people from around the tri-state area are members.

“I think there is really a movement out there for clean living,” she said. “The community is very hungry for this.”

Dubuque resident Ben Pothoff stopped by the co-op during a lunch break. He said he and his wife think it’s a great way to establish a healthier diet.

“We think there is a lot of importance in knowing what you’re getting and where you’re getting it from,” he said.

The co-op has been years in the making. It began gaining momentum when a steering committee was formed in 2009, and a membership campaign that launched in February 2012 took more than a year to reach a $1.4 million fundraising goal.

Andrew Mozena, president of the co-op’s board of directors, called the Dubuque project ambitious.

“We were skipping a few steps when it came to getting off the ground. Most co-ops don’t start off in a store as big as where we are or shelve as much as we do,” he said.

Jan Sigwarth, also of Dubuque, checked out the co-op Monday.

“I think it is a great thing for local farmers and it is good to see that produce is bought and sold locally,” she said.

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Information from: Telegraph Herald, https://www.thonline.com


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