As a baker myself, I make a point to try all the local bakeries. I heard from several people that a new bakery was opening in Kaukauna, and as soon as they posted their menu, I couldn’t wait to try it. Right in the heart of downtown Kaukauna, Sticky Fingers opened in...
Did you know Oshkosh is considered a desert? Well, not the desert you’re thinking of with sand and hot temperatures. It’s considered a food desert by the USDA, and the residents of Oshkosh wanted to change that. As of July 22nd, 2021, the Oshkosh Food Co-Op (OFC) is officially open for business! Since I covered the co-op back in November, I had to do a follow-up and shop there on opening day!
What Exactly is a Food Co-Op?
For anyone that didn’t read our first blog post regarding Oshkosh Food Co-Op, you may be a bit confused about what a food co-op is. According to their website, “A food co-op offers many products like any other grocery store, and is owned by the people who purchase member shares.” Oshkosh Food Co-Op sources food locally, and offers an emphasis on natural and organic foods. The co-op is also supporting the local economy by adding 30 jobs. It’s not a regular grocery store it’s a cool grocery store.
Oshkosh is a big fan of supporting locally-produced food. For anyone that appreciates a good farmer’s market, the co-op provides a wonderful shopping experience of buying local products that’s open every day of the week and year-round. At least 20% of their products are locally sourced from different vendors within 100 miles of Oshkosh. You’ll find some of Nosh’s favorites like Thunderbird Bakery and Pilora’s Cafe that are easy to grab on-the-go. They even provide non-food products that are local like soaps and candles. Our friends at Visit Oshkosh put together a handy list of some of the local businesses you’ll find at the co-op.
Overall Shopping Experience
When I shopped at the co-op on opening day, it was packed with eager shoppers. It was quite easy to find parking, which is something I sometimes worry about when going to the Farmer’s Market in Oshkosh. They had good wayfinding signs to navigate the store. Before the co-op, I would get my meat from Wagner Market, but Wagner closes at 6pm on weekdays, and the co-op was a convenient spot for me to shop for last-minute dinner ingredients. There were even some basic items like paper towels and toilet paper that you could purchase at the co-op. Even though I’m not a member, I’m planning to shop there again in the future.
Favorite Areas of the Co-Op
Here are some of my favorite areas of the co-op that you might not find at a typical grocery store.
This section of the store is where you can buy items like rice, beans, nuts, etc. in bulk. You can bring your own containers to fill or use sustainable bags they provide. They will charge you by the weight at checkout. I did see one customer have some issues getting one bulk item out of the container due to its size, but otherwise I think this is a great option to buy pantry staples without wasting extra food.
They call their deli area “The Kitchen.” At The Kitchen, you’ll find items traditionally found in a deli, like rotisserie chicken or mac and cheese. They serve breakfast items from opening until 10:30am, and lunch/dinner options from 11am through 7pm. You can take these options home, or if you want to eat there, they have indoor and outdoor seating. I’ll be checking out this section of the store more in the future, but I had to mention its name because it’s such a good name.
The Oshkosh Food Co-Op is the first in the nation to feature a “Chatty Checkout.” If you’re not in a rush to check out your items and want to learn more about the co-op [and maybe the people that work there], the Chatty Check-out is for you. This lane is sponsored by Women’s Fund and is designed to help combat social isolation. I used this checkout when I was done shopping, but since I didn’t have that many items, it was a shorter conversation.
Grow with Oshkosh Food Co-Op as a Member
The co-op wouldn’t exist without its members. As of today, there are more than 1700 owners for OFC. And no, you don’t need to be a member to shop at the co-op, however members do get some awesome perks like in-store discounts, member giveaways, voting rights related to co-op matters, and possible profit dividends. When you check out, you will need to provide either your member number or the last name the membership is under, and the discounts will be applied. If you’re looking to become a member, visit their website for more information.
Coming Soon to the Oshkosh Food Co-Op
The Co-Op is currently waiting for approval from the US Department of Agriculture to accept SNAP/EBT. Vendors that want to sell at the Co-Op can get more information here. They plan to offer specials each week, which you can find online or in your local newspaper. In addition, they’re going to host a Grand Opening Ceremony Weekend from September 9th-11th; keep an eye on their website for more information.