On May 24, the Monadnock Food Cooperative, now with close to 1,000 members, broke ground on a 13,000-square-foot, full-service food store in Keene, New Hampshire. Besides creating at least forty-five new jobs, the cooperative will offer a selection of healthy, local food, and a downtown gathering place. It will also be an outlet for farmers in the region to sell their products when it opens later this year.
Four years ago, Bonnie Hudspeth and Katie Stoner, environmental studies students at Antioch University New England (AUNE), organized a planning committee for a food cooperative as a master’s project. Along with fellow students Jen Risley and Amanda Costello, Hudspeth went on to find grant money and enlist local support. She became the project manager of the cooperative after it incorporated in 2010. For her vision and work, Hudspeth won the 2010 Emerging Leader Award given by the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation for the Monadnock Region.
Other AUNE students and faculty have been closely involved with the co-op project. Hudspeth worked with teams of students from AUNE’s MBA in Sustainability program, who created marketing plans for the cooperative. Rich Grogan, core faculty member in AUNE’s Department of Management, led the co-op’s marketing efforts for two years.
Their hard work is paying off for the community.