New Program Promises Healthy, Local ‘Food for All’

The Recorder, July 11th, 2015, by Anita Fritz

Green Fields Market, along with McCusker’s Market in Shelburne Falls — collectively known as Franklin Community Co-op — has taken a step toward making healthy local food more accessible to everyone.

“We have to do this,” said Molly Chambers, who is a member of the cooperative and serves on its Committee for Economic Innovation. “Everyone, especially those on fixed incomes, deserves to eat healthy.”

Chambers said the committee met regularly to come up with a program that would allow the county’s elderly, as well as those on WIC (Women Infants and Children), a supplemental nutrition program, and SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps, to shop at the two markets at discounted rates.

She said what the committee came up with is a program called Food For All, which helps lower-income individuals and those on fixed incomes pay for membership at the co-op, and then gives them a 10 percent discount on all purchases.

“People will present their WIC or SNAP documentation and fill out an application for a scholarship for membership,” said Chambers. “Depending on their income, they’d either receive a full or partial scholarship, and payment plan is available.”
Chambers said the co-op is great, but some people can’t afford to shop there.

“This will open it up to everyone,” she said. “And, it’s just that much more support we’ll be giving our local farms.”

Chambers said the co-op’s board has approved the program, so it is already in place.

“People should start coming in now,” she said.

Membership to the co-op is $175, which can be paid in full or in monthly installments. Members typically get a 2 percent discount on purchases, unless they are working members, and then they get a 10 percent discount, like the food program offers. Every member who wants to be a working member must work at least two hours each month.

Franklin Community Co-op began as a buying club. The Montague Food Co-op was its first incarnation with a storefront in Turners Falls in 1977.

The original store was run completely by volunteer members, who received a discount on their purchases in exchange for their work.

The co-op eventually hired a manager to coordinate activities at the store and keep it running. During that time, the co-op became Franklin Community Co-op.

In 1987, a larger co-op opened on Chapman Street and in 1993 it moved to its current location at 144 Main St. and became Green Fields Market.

In 2007, the co-op purchased McCusker’s Market in Shelburne Falls, making it a two-store co-op.