Community Meeting Report

On March 18, 2014 from 6–8 p.m., the Seward Co-op convened a community meeting to discuss the new Friendship Store. The meeting, held at Sabathani Community Center, was designed and facilitated by Yvonne Cheek of Millennium Consulting Group. The agenda for the meeting was shaped by interviews with community residents and by a planning committee of the Seward Co-op. Approximately 100 people attended the meeting.

This report includes information generated at the community meeting by the attendees.

Meeting Purpose:

Engage neighborhood residents in a discussion about the Friendship Store.

Meeting Goals:

  • Share updates on the Friendship Store.
  • Provide information about co-ops and ownership in the co-op.
  • Discuss ideas for Friendship Store products and services.

Agenda Items for the Community Meeting included "Welcome & Meeting Purpose" by LaDonna Redmond, Education & Outreach Coordinator Seward Co-op; Role of Facilitator & Opening Question; "What Is a Co-op? How Does It Work?" by Sean Doyle, General Manager, Seward Co-op; "Friendship Project Progress, Store Design, Capitalization & Hiring" by Erik Hatting, Initiatives Manager, Seward Co-op and Barb Doyle, HIRED; "Questions and Answers; Anchor Questions for Discussion; Acknowledgement of Seward Co-op Managers" by LaDonna Redmond; "Store Tours / Running for the Board / Ownership in the Co-op / Participating in Future Community Events and Milestones" by Tom Vogel, Marketing Manager, Seward Co-op; "Next Steps and Closing Remarks" by LaDonna Redmond.

Questions to the community:



Question #1:

Where do you shop for groceries now, and what are your thoughts about that store?

Eastside Coop: Quality meat & produce Cub: Price, proximity, variety, affordable, fresh produce, good jobs, coupons
Everett’s: Proximity to home, poor produce Kowalski’s: Proximity, selection, easy to get in and get out, convenience, specialty, overpriced
Lunds: Items on sale Rainbow: Cheap prices, coupons for savings, variety and quality
Seward Co-op: Produce, coffee, eating lunch, friendly, can get help at produce, local producers, on the bus line, organic, bulk, philosophy SUPERVALU: Handy, convenient
Target: Good variety, bulk, produce, meat, one stop place, convenient Trader Joes: Smaller store, get things faster, don’t like that nothing is local, love it but it’s too far, nice ambience
Walmart: Low prices Wedge: Closest co-op, organic, small aisles, more dialogue, on the bus line, bulk, gluten free food, over priced
Whole Foods: Free range and grass fed meats Aldi: Low prices, limited selections

Comments from some participants about what matters:

  • cost
  • proximity to my home
  • organic items
  • location
  • fast check out
  • easy to walk to
  • quality of produce
  • easy access

Question #2:

What types of products serve your family’s needs?

Healthy foods Organic foods Bulk beans, grains, nuts, oats, granola, cereals, pasta Local produce Chicken sausage
Produce that may be out of season Locally-made items Ethnic foods Canned goods Low sodium

Low glycemic

Lower price cuts of meat (bones plus) Fish Cultural options Allergy free options (dairy, citrus, etc.)
Pasta Rice Fresh fruit & vegetables year round Fresh bread Food made from scratch with no fillers
No preservatives Salad bar Minnesota tubal foods Local green tomatoes Refried beans
Urban products Cleaning products Gluten free Local pizza crusts Cat food
Grass fed Sliced meat Fruits for kids Bigger signs Fewer aisles for packaged food
Less packaged frozen Fewer processed foods Outdoor seating

Question #3:

What deli foods would you like to see at the new store? Would you (often or sometimes) use the deli for your lunch or dinner needs?

Chicken salad Seafood salad Tuna salad Cucumber salad Wild rice salad (not paddy rice)
Turkey sandwiches with trimmings Soup Chili Cheap healthy fast foods Sandwiches


Hot bar Eggplant dishes Butternut squash soup Mexican food - tamales, tacos
Bakery items Loaves of bread Beans Greens Kale salad
Roast beef Potato salad Curried vegetables "Normal" cake Non pork options
Black-eyed peas Sweet potatoes Smaller portions Beans and rice Macaroni and cheese
Sliced meat Baked chicken Okra Collards Rotisserie chickent
Pre-made sandwiches Alternatives for prepared foods Deli reflect culture of the neighborhood

Deli Use

Dinner yes Maybe
Definitely yes A couple times
Lunch yes People who work at Sabathani yes
Deli may be too expensive for me Yes, a much better option than Subway
I'm not much of a deli user I would eat at the deli before I shop, so I wouldn't but so much
Not currently a deli user per week yes

Question #4:

What topics would you like to know more about? What classes would you like to take at the Friendship Store?


  • Cultural/ethnic cooking
  • Different cultural traditions
  • Cooking healthy meals
  • Healthy ingredient substitution
  • Vegetarian cooking
  • From garden to stove
  • Diabetic cooking
  • Soul food cooking
  • Chemistry of cooking
  • Shopping at the co-op on a budget
  • Meal planning
  • Healthy eating
  • Food preservation
  • Cooking dry goods
  • Authentic Latino cooking
  • Cooking gluten free
  • Cooking from scratch
  • Canning
  • How to use different products to save money
  • How to make vegetables taste better
  • How to use spices
  • Too busy to take classes, but love that they are available


  • How to eliminate meet from my diet and eat healthy
  • Information on products in front of me. Educate staff on how to educate me.
  • Information on product origin
  • Small, local companies
  • Recipes
  • Commercial kitchen
  • Partnering with local organizations
  • Partnering with Senior Center at Sabathani
  • Partnering with high schools