La Crosse Food Co-op Gets Local, National Recognition

People's Food Co-op Recognized By HUD As Major Beneficiary Of Loan Program

Dips, sandwiches, and premade meals at the People's Food Co-op in La Crosse. Photo: Maureen McCollum/WPR.

Both the city of La Crosse and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are recognizing the impact a local food co-op has had on the downtown community.

The People’s Food Co-op started in 1973 in La Crosse as a buying club, in which a group of college students bought bulk products, like whole wheat flour and brown rice, and split it up among themselves. Today, it’s a full-size grocery store with a deli, café, and restaurant.

The co-op began a major expansion a decade ago. It secured a number of loans to do so, including a $250,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) gap loan through HUD.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Now, HUD is recognizing the People’s Food Co-op as one of ten national success stories that has benefitted from the program.

Said Michelle Schry is the co-op’s general manager: “Ten years later, to see the success that we’ve had – the amount of growth, and the community impact, not just people who shop here, but local producers who sell their products through us … the folks at HUD said, ‘Hey, that’s exactly what we want to see this loan program do.’”

The city of La Crosse will also be presenting an award to the People’s Food Co-op in a few weeks. It’s recognizing the co-op’s expansion and its role in neighborhood development.

La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat oversaw the city’s CDBG loan program 10 years ago and helped the co-op secure the loan. He says the store continues to be an anchor for the downtown area.

“It just fits so perfectly with the city’s downtown plans and redevelopment efforts, to have a grocery store downtown to really support the goals for more residential in our downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods,” said Kabat.

The People’s Food Co-op is currently exploring future expansion plans.