The Story of the South Suburban Food Co-op

Park Forest, IL—(ENEWSPF)—July 7, 2011. The South Suburban Food Co-op, an organic and specialty food store established in 1974, has opened its doors in its new location at 208 Forest Boulevard, in the Park Forest Plaza. Volunteer members made the move from its former site in a Matteson industrial park, and the member-owned food store is now back in operation.

The move provides a more accessible location for both current members and prospective new ones, says general manager Dorothy Colson. “The old place was hard to find. People could find us on the internet but couldn’t find the store. Our new place on the northeast corner of the Park Forest Plaza is easy to get to. We just say it’s under the mural.”

The Co-op carries many grocery items, mostly organic, and foods for those who need special diets, including gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, and vegetarian items. It carries organic produce (often local), local honey, free-range eggs, non-homogenized organic milk, organic meat (beef, fish, bison and chicken), grains and flour, baking supplies, cereals and pasta, coffee and tea, nuts and dried fruits, meat and meatless frozen entrees, both dairy and non-dairy cheese, healthful snack and dessert items, paper goods, cleaning and body care products, and even pet supplies. Members can also special-order products they might not be able to get any other place.

The Co-op is a member-owned organization, but right now non-members have a chance to “try it out” by being offered a three-month free visitors’ membership card. This allows prospective members to try shopping at the Co-op before making the decision to join. The initial start-up fee for regular members is $55; for seniors, full-time students and Link card holders it is $35. Those who join the first day they make a purchase get a $10 discount. Annual renewal fees are much lower: regular members pay $24 yearly fees and seniors, students and Link card holders only $12. New members are always welcome.

Members may lower their food purchasing costs by working at the co-op. Discounts from 5% up to 20% are earned depending on the number of hours the Member works. Jobs include bagging, pricing, stocking, cashiering, greeting visitors, setting up produce, cleaning, and cashiering. Also members may attend board meetings or join the board and take part in the direction of the Co-op.

Hours of operation are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday; 12 noon to 8 p.m. Thursday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday; and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. It is closed on Wednesday and Sunday. For more information call the Co-op at 708-747-2256.

At present the Co-op has about 250 members. They come from more than 35 communities in the South Suburban area, from as far north as Chicago and Oak Lawn, as far west as Joliet, as far south as Manteno, and as far east as Crown Point, Indiana.

“I come here because I find things I can’t find in a regular grocery store, like yogurt with live cultures and butter with live enzymes,” said Linda Putnam of Park Forest. “I also like networking with others who are interested in healthy living.”

“This Co-op is a place where people interested in maintaining and restoring health can truly benefit,” Colson said.                 

Source: South Suburban Food Co-op