The Oklahoma Food Cooperative
At A Glance
|Where:||160-mile radius of Oklahoma City (plus a few farther-flung locations)|
|What:||Foods & non-food items grown, produced, & sold within the state of Oklahoma|
|Number of employees:||4 part-time staff|
|Total revenue:||$790,829 /
“We’ve finally found one thing that fundamentalist Baptists can come together with Pagans to agree about,” says Bob Waldrop, founder and president of the Oklahoma Food Cooperative, “and that’s local food. This coming together was a miracle.”
When delivery day for the Cooperative arrives, Bob explains excitedly, “It’s quite an experience. Thousands of products come in the door, starting about 9:00 a.m., from sixty or so different producers. About fifty-plus volunteers take those products, distribute them to six hundred and fifty individual orders which will be picked up at thirty-eight different pickup sites across the state, and by about 2:00 p.m., trucks are being loaded and heading out to the pick-up sites. It’s about sixty- five thousand dollars worth of economic activity compressed into about six hours.”
The Oklahoma Food Cooperative is a new concept in food distribution. It brings together regional food producers and consumers through an easy-to-navigate website. With a statewide network of volunteers, the enterprise pumps nearly $1 million into the pockets of local food producers each year.
The model is so simple, so inexpensive, and so effective that it has spread to Idaho, Texas, Michigan, Iowa, Kansas, Colorado, and two locations in Ontario, Canada. Other imitators are moving ahead in Massachusetts and Missouri. But whether this social invention can graduate to a self- sustaining business still remains to be seen.