Food cooperative merger

Just Local Food Co-op, 1117 S. Farwell St., will be renamed to Menomonie Market Food Co-op in early 2022.

EAU CLAIRE — The merger of two food cooperatives in the Chippewa Valley is moving forward after getting overwhelming support from members.

Voting ended on Sunday for members of Just Local Food Co-op in Eau Claire and Menomonie Market Food Co-op to weigh in on the planned merger.

For both co-ops, 95% of members who cast a ballot were in favor of the merger, according to a news release that followed the vote.

“I want to thank our members for their outstanding support of this merger,” Kathy Mitchell, a Just Local Food Co-op board member, said in the release. “We look forward to an exciting future of growth and prosperity for our new co-op.”

The Just Local Food store at 1117 S. Farwell St. will be renamed to Menomonie Market Food Co-op in early 2022.

Prior to that, there is a lot of behind-the-scenes work to get the two cooperatives to become one.

“The merger transition itself will be wrapped up in the coming months as the boards finish due diligence work and the legal papers are filed,” said Crystal Halvorson, general manager of the Menomonie co-op.

She has also been interim general manager for the Eau Claire co-op following a vacancy left by its previous leader in 2020. The Menomonie co-op has also been handling general management, finance, human resources, IT and marketing services for Just Local through a contract between the two.

Combined, the two cooperatives have 4,500 members and get products from over 200 local growers, producers and processors.

Members were given about two weeks to cast their ballots on the merger. Voter turnout was nearly 18% of the membership for the two cooperatives.