2017-04-20 / Local Food co-op raises money for area nonprofits Members of the Springfield Food Co-op present a representative of Meals on Wheels with a check. — COURTESY Members of the Springfield Food Co-op present a representative of Meals on Wheels with a check. — COURTESY SPRINGFIELD — A borrowed idea has taken hold at the Springfield Food Co-op (SFC), located at 335 River Road in Springfield, and given much needed funds to local nonprofit organizations with their round up program. A committee of three SFC employees are responsible for the community giving program that started last November and has raised nearly $6,000 for area nonprofit organizations. “I saw another co-op doing it and I realized the value of it,” said Julie Jones, one of the committee members. “We believe in the nonprofits, and they always need funds. Pennies and nickels can make a difference.” The program is easy — when you shop at the co-op and are ready to pay, you can tell the cashier to round up your order to the nearest dollar, regardless of how you’re paying. The change is then applied to the fund for whichever nonprofit has been chosen for the month. “It’s passive and gentle,” said Hannah Lillie, another committee member. “It’s really easy and you can help out without it being a struggle or a burden.” Each month they choose a new nonprofit organization to benefit. The organizations are either ones they already knew, recommended by customers or requested by the organization. “We do our best to discuss the organization’s needs and what the best time of year is to help,” said Hannah Lillie. “We have more than a year’s worth of organizations recommended, vetted and scheduled,” said Ali Lillie, the third committee member. Along with raising funds, the store raises awareness about the organizations and how they contribute to the community through education with brochures and other information about the organization in the store. “We’ve seen a lot of customers and members who want to know what else they can do,” Hannah Lillie said. “They will take a brochure to find other ways to help. We have a great customer base that want to do more.” All of the store’s employees are vested in the program. “This has been a whole store thing, every staff member is involved,” said Ali Lillie. “It has been great to see the impact on the staff. They’ve all felt more involved with the community,” said Hannah Lillie. “It is more than just a basic cashier job for most of us. The staff has embraced it. There are a lot of younger people on the staff. This is benefitting them, and a learning experience.” This month the funds are for the Riverside Middle School Food Shelf. The money will support their weekend backpack program, which sends meals home with kids in need so they will have food to eat while not in school, and to pay off some of the lunch debts students have accumulated.