It’s still some time away, and they still don’t have a building, but the Mankato Food Co-op is closer than ever to becoming reality.

Technically, it already is. They’ve done all the legal necessities of becoming a regular nonprofit in Minnesota.

Now comes the harder part: getting members.

The people behind the Mankato Food Co-op effort have chosen November as a key time to get the word out about their efforts and try to raise awareness of what they’re trying to do.

So far, according to Greg Lessard, the co-op’s point man, the surveying they’ve done has shown overwhelming support for a co-op in Mankato.

“Upwards of 80 to 90 percent said they be a member, and the vast majority of those said they’d shop there weekly,” Lessard said of their online survey. “There was also an overwhelming response to organic and vegetarian, a lot of people really like the idea of a deli and a from-scratch bakery.”

Driving the effort, Lessard said, is a core group of committed volunteers. Now they’re hoping to become more visible.

“Our meeting that month was greatly attended and out of it we learned that a lot of people still don’t know about us and we need to do a better job promoting the group in town,” he said.

Some have wondered, Lessard said, why it’s taking so long to get the co-op up and running. Money has a lot to do with it. That will come when members sign up, Lessard said, and the group really hasn’t made a big push for members yet.

Lessard estimated that having an actual store may still be a year away. When it opens, it may operate much like the St. Peter Food Co-op. All people, members or not, will be welcome to shop there.

They’re hoping to find a place with 5,000 to 6,000 square feet where they can offer a full-scale grocery.

“We’re trying to be a grocer that specializes in sustainable, local, organic and fair trade foods,” Lessard said.

To learn more about the Mankato Food Co-op, visit mankatocoop.com.

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