Eastside Food Co-op is a community-owned grocery store located on Central Avenue in Northeast Minneapolis that specializes in fresh, local and organic foods sourced from farmers and producers who care about the health of people and our planet. It offers family-friendly amenities, including a kids produce club, community events and classes. They are also a convenient pick-up location for several Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms.
Tiny Carts for Tiny Shoppers
The co-op offers tiny shopping carts for the littlest shoppers. These are great, except when they are not. If you have a high-energy child (or two) who can't help but want to run with anything on wheels, I recommend (from experience) shopping during less busy times when you can wrangle children while shopping. Also, be ready to end up pushing your own cart (with a toddler rider) while half-pushing, half-carrying the tiny cart. The good news is, tiny-cart shopping gets easier as kids get bigger and kids seem to love them until they reach the double-digits.
Co-op Explorers - Kids Produce Club
Kids can sign up to get a free piece of fruit on each visit. Sign up at the customer service counter. Kids get their own card to show at check out and a passport book to keep track of all the different produce sampled. That is how it works on paper. In reality, there is a small bin by the front door holding generally the same kid-friendly fruits -- apples, oranges and occasionally bananas. Kids grab their favorites and no one asks to see their card. Either way, it is a joy to have kids grabbing fruits rather than begging for junk food.
Many of the local farmers markets offer similar clubs. Find a nearby farmers market here:
- Harvest Time: Twin Cities Fall Farmers Markets & Outings
- 10+ Family-Friendly Twin Cities Spring &Summer Farmers Markets
Family-Friendly Community Events
The store offers family-friendly community events. Most recently the Co-op Kids Series introduces kids to other cultures, healthy eating and community through monthly drop-in events. In the past, they have also offered movie nights. For more information on any classes or events, contact email@example.com.
Eastside Food Co-op - My Secret WIC Weapon.
I have always had a love/hate relationship with the WIC program. On the one hand, the additional healthy food during critical developmental times has been a blessing and the WIC staff was always pleasant to work with, but I hated hunting down the correct items and hoping I didn't make any mistakes while the line built up behind me. Then one of the WIC nurses suggested I do my shopping at my co-op. This was a life changer. Eastside carefully selected the best of the options and made certain they were available. Someone on staff showed me where to find everything the first time and after that, the store was small enough, that I just ran down my list, knowing I was getting the highest quality food for my vouchers.
Eastside Food Co-op takes all government assistance programs - including WIC, SNAP, MFAP, MFIP. They are respectful and non-judgmental (unfortunately this is not always true everywhere) and they do the hard work of making sure that their offerings are healthy and socially just. I highly recommend doing your WIC shopping at a small co-op over a large grocery store.
In addition to my own experience, the co-op has also shared with me that they launched a new program in September, called FARE: Food Access to Restore Equity. This programs helps shoppers enrolled in SNAP, MFAP, MFIP or WIC stretch their dollar with an everyday discount on fresh produce and affordable staple items for their families. All shoppers currently enrolled in these programs are eligible to participate and receive a 20% discount on fresh fruits and vegetables in the Produce department and affordable staple items throughout the store. Find more information here.
Disclaimer: This is not an unbiased review. I have been a member-owner since Eastside Co-op opened in 2003.