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The Missoula Community Food Co-op is rooted in a broad community effort to secure Missoula’s local food system and create greater food access for people of all incomes. Sparked by priorities expressed in the 2004 Missoula County Food Assessment and neighborhood surveys, the co-op is the culmination of years of research, collaboration and many people’s hard work.

In its infancy, the co-op was a buying club nurtured by the North-Missoula Community Development Corporation (NMCDC). As the buying club was growing, plans evolved to include the development of a cooperatively-managed store and commercial kitchen. Molly Moody, community organizer for the NMCDC, shepherded the co-op/kitchen through its initial years of organizing, research, and business planning. The work of the NMCDC staff on this project was funded largely by multi-year grants from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development and the USDA Community Food Solutions. All told, the NMCDC has invested more than $230,000 toward development of Missoula’s first food cooperative.

These are some significant dates in the co-op’s evolution:

In May of 2005, early members of the co-op made the historic decision to follow the working-member model provided by the Park Slope Food Co-op founded in 1973 in Brooklyn, N.Y.

In September of 2006, the co-op established itself in a historic freight warehouse at NMCDC’s Burns Street Square, on Missoula’s West-side.

In late October 2006, we held our first all-member meeting and elected the first Board of Directors. Member volunteers began extensive clean-up and remodeling to prepare a small storefront for the grocery store, and in January 2007 the co-op was legally incorporated in the State of Montana, thereby establishing itself as a legal and financial entity.
The co-op’s grocery store opened its doors in December 2007 and held its grand opening celebration on the 14th of June 2008- feeding organic burgers and snacks to over 300 neighborhood residents and members.
Since then, the co-op has been steadily building support from members and expanding its inventory each week. Currently, the store occupies 1,200 square feet of its new home, and the NMCDC and MCFC are working to secure funding to increase retail space and develop the kitchen and deli-café in the remaining 11,800 square feet of the warehouse space.

Permanent link to this article: http://missoulafoodcoop.com/about-the-co-op/history/