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Scene in Manchester: City Food Co-op is a fresh idea

April 20. 2014 11:33PM

I recently was accosted by a young woman in a pea-pod suit, and then I became the 869th member of the Manchester Food Co-op.

OK, maybe "accosted" is an exaggeration, but she certainly got my attention as I walked through the crowded Made in NH Expo several weeks ago. PeneloPea the Peapod, aka Shaelagh Nelson, and several other volunteers were working hard to reach the 1,000 members needed before the co-op can take the next step of securing financing, beginning a member loan campaign, hiring a store manager and securing a site.

You may run into a PeneloPea or PeneloPete yourself soon, and I encourage you to take a minute to hear their pitch.

The co-op is a member-owned, volunteer-run organization working to build a full service cooperative grocery store in Manchester. The store will carry fresh, healthy and locally produced foods.

"Similar to an indoor farmers' market, the "Co-op will make local produce, dairy, poultry, seafood and meat accessible year-round. This will support the sustainability of our farmers and local economy, as well as the health of our community," reads the website.

I have mentioned my love of all things local before, so joining the co-op was something I really should have done a long time ago. In addition to serving as a grocery store, the co-op is committed to teach us how to eat well and live well through free ongoing cooking classes and nutrition and health workshops. Just the thought of it makes me want to crank up the Grateful Dead and find my hemp necklace from college.

The cost to become a member is $100. Benefits include owning a share of the business, sharing in any profits, the opportunity to volunteer at the store (it is not required), member-only discounts, and more.

Of course, you will not have to be a member to shop at the store. But if supporting local farms and businesses is important to you, why not become a member and have the privilege of being able to say you helped bring the opportunity to Manchester?

Sites for the store are being considered, but none has been decided upon. The promise is that it will be situated in the city, at a place with parking and outdoor seating.

I am about as risk-averse as they come. So I had to ask Manchester Food Co-op board member Steve Freeman (you may have seen him on WMUR's "Cook's Corner") whether I was assuming any risk with my membership. What happens to my $100 if the store doesn't open? What if someone slips and falls and sues the store?

"Members do not assume operational risk," Freeman wrote in an email. "We will operate like any other business in this respect and have all insurances in place. Member-owners are only at risk to build a better community."

But what about my $100? If they don't open, any money left would be returned to the members. Freeman says not to worry because the odds against a co-op failure in America are 999 to one. "We will not be the next one."

As of last Thursday, the co-op was at 885 members. So close. To learn more and possibly become member 886, visit

Something new at Kiwanis auction

Sometimes you have to change things up to make something old more exciting. After many years of holding its annual auction during the day on the grounds of the Webster House, the Kiwanis Club of Manchester is making the event an evening shindig inside The Derryfield Restaurant for its 46th year.

The May 9 auction is the club's largest fundraiser and helps support their many programs for Manchester's youth at Manchester Boys & Girls Club, Police Athletic League, Café Lauren at Girls Inc., and the Webster House, among others.

I always looked forward to seeing the auction tent out on the Webster House lawn every spring. But, Kiwanian Shannon Sullivan said the club hopes a change in venue and time might get people more excited about the auction and help them raise more money.

The auction will also be new in another way. Gone are some of the graciously donated, gently used items that were in auctions of the past. This year, you will only find new items, including sports and entertainment tickets and memorabilia, jewelry, appliances and a variety of gift certificates.

The auction begins at 6:30 p.m. There is a $20 entry fee, which includes access to the live and silent auction, light appetizers and cash bar. To buy a ticket, or donate an auction item, please visit

Community Picnic

My friend Renie Denton has been trying to get me to come in and see the new home of Manchester Community Resource Center since it moved to the space in the renovated Dearborn Memorial/Odd Fellows Hall last year.

Now Denton, the resource center's executive director, is resorting to promises of free food.

This Thursday, Manchester Community Resource Center will host a community picnic in conjunction with a Parks and Recreation Department meeting to discuss planned renovations for Harriman Park, located next to the Odd Fellows Hall building, at the corner of Lake and Hall streets.

The indoor picnic, including free hotdogs, macaroni salad and ice cream, begins at 5:30 p.m. in the 4th-floor hall of the 434 Lake Ave. building. It will be followed by the informal presentation and discussion about plans for the park at 6 p.m.

All are welcome. Call 647-8967 for more details.

NH365.ORG Event of the Week

Hearts will be moved at Temple Israel Sunday as it hosts an evening with Eva Mozes Kor, a survivor of the Holocaust who was subjected to human experimentation, with her twin sister Miriam, under Josef Mengele at Auschwitz. After arriving at Auschwitz, the 9-year-old twins were separated from their parents and older sisters, never to see them again.

Eva Mozes Kor, who is also the founder of CANDLES (Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors) will tell her story of survival and forgiveness at the 66 Salmon St. temple beginning at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free.

For more information on this and other important programs in Manchester, visit

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