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Kensington Community Food Co-op working hard to expand influence of co-ops around Philadelphia

Food and energy cooperatives have certainly gained steam in the Delaware Valley in the past few years. Odds are you’ve heard of Weaver’s Way Co-op in Northwest Philadelphia, and you may have even heard of Mariposa and the Energy Co-op. Yet, there’s one you may not have heard of that’s working with federal and city lawmakers to pump up the clout of local co-ops. This co-op is the Kensington Community Food Co-op (KCFC), which was founded in 2008.

One of KCFC’s top priorities is to get the United States House of Representatives to pass the National Cooperative Development Act, according to Peter Frank, the vice president of KCFC and the campaign coordinator of the movement to pass the act. While this is national legislation, Frank is unequivocal that the passage would be a great thing for the Philadelphia-area. “Philadelphia also has a good 'co-op infrastructure' in place to support further co-op development,” says Frank.

This would explain the November launch of the Philadelphia-area Cooperative Alliance (PACA). Along with KCFC, the Alliance counts members from Weaver’s Way, Mariposa, the Energy Co-op, and credit unions. Frank says PACA is orchestrating a cooperative conference at Drexel University in June, which is being organized by the grandson of former mayor Richardson Dilworth on Drexel’s behalf. One of PACA’s first tasks will be to work with Philadelphia City Council to pass a resolution recognizing the social and economic windfalls of cooperatives in the city. 

KCFC’s Vice President is so passionate about the National Cooperative Development Act and PACA because of the positive impact they can have on Kensington. For one thing, KCFC has been looking to open up its own grocery store for some time now, but has not had the funds to do so. The proposed bill could turn the key for this grocery store. Going beyond just KCFC, Frank lauds cooperatives as a chance for decent jobs, vital grocery and banking services, and a means of keeping money in and around Kensington.  

The myriad local benefits of cooperatives justifies why local representative Chaka Fattah wrote the Act, while fellow local Reps. Allyson Schwartz and Bob Brady co-sponsored. Specifically, the bill would provide capital funding for co-ops, along with free technical assistance and training, says Frank. The bill was officially introduced to the U.S. House as H.R. 3677 a couple of weeks ago. No word on when it will go up for vote.

Source: Peter Frank, Kensington Community Food Co-op
Writer: Andy Sharpe
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