Rounding up

Marquette Food Co-op raises funds at registers to support food pantries

Items customers have purchased to donate to local food pantries are pictured in a donation bin at the Marquette Food Co-op. The co-op is currently offering triple owner points on select items from its food pantry list, and is holding a register round-up to raise funds for local food pantries because of the heightened need for food pantry services that occurred due to the partial government shutdown. (Photo courtesy of the Marquette Food Co-op)

MARQUETTE — In light of the heightened need for food pantry services in the past weeks due to the partial government shutdown that lasted over a month, the Marquette Food Co-op is working to raise money for local food pantries at its registers.

“Many of our neighbors are struggling to get by without the promise of a paycheck or guarantee of government-funded food assistance in the coming months,” Marquette Food Co-op Outreach Director Sarah Monte said. “Together, we can help lessen the burden and feed our community.”

Starting Friday, the co-op’s cashiers began asking customers to round their total purchase to the next full dollar, with all “round-up” proceeds benefiting food pantries at St. Vincent de Paul and the Salvation Army’s Marquette and Ishpeming locations.

This will help the food pantries “replenish their shelves and to prepare for another potential surge if the government shuts down again or if SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) recipients aren’t able to stretch their benefits through February,” organizers said.

The co-op wanted to get started on raising funds as soon as possible, Monte said, because it recognized the strain on food pantries that occurred as many federal workers were furloughed or working without pay and many others faced uncertainty surrounding SNAP benefits.

“We have a lot of customers that use SNAP benefits here and we’re just really distraught to think that they might not be able to have access to good healthy food,” Monte said. “And we also knew that there was already stress on food pantries around the country … As people start running out of the SNAP benefits money, they’re going to also potentially use the food pantry and food pantries are going to find themselves without enough products.”

With every $500 raised by the register roundup, the co-op will place a wholesale order for items to be given to local food pantries, which increases the buying power of the dollars donated, Monte said.

“We’re buying it at wholesale price, we can afford to buy more then to support the food pantries,” she said.

Furthermore, co-op owners will be rewarded for contributing to the donation bin in the store that collects items to benefit the local food pantries. Organizers said triple owner rewards points will be offered on select items from its food pantry list until further notice.

“Look for special tags on shelf-stable Field Day label products like mac and cheese and peanut butter, and other necessities like laundry soap and toilet paper,” a press release about the program said.

The co-op plans to run the round-up for the rest of this month, Monte said, noting that depending on what happens, it may consider running the program for longer.

“There still isn’t definitive word about what will happen in March for SNAP benefits,” Monte said.

The co-op will also consider running the program at additional times during the year, she said.

“Additionally, there are points during the year when food pantries are more in need, so depending on how this goes, we’ll consider running this in the future as needed,” Monte said.

The Marquette Food Co-op, a natural and organic grocery store collectively owned by over 5,000 community members, is located at 502 W. Washington St. in Marquette. For more information on the co-op or this program, visit https://marquettefood.coop or call 906-225-0671.

Cecilia Brown can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248.