Frequently Asked Questions

Grassroots Member Loan Program

Overview of the member loan program.

Lynchburg Food Cooperative Inc. (doing business as Grassroots Local Market) is now taking loans from eligible investors. Investors can now know that their investment in Grassroots will not only allow the co-op to get off the ground but that a nice return can be earned as well.

Offering Memorandum Notes for the Lynchburg Food Cooperative (PDF)

What are the terms for the loans?

The interest rate is 4.5% per year. The term is five years and is fully amortized over this period.. The payments are monthly principal and interest beginning as soon as Grassroots takes possession of the funds.

Is the loan secured?

No, members loans are unsecured debt and are not guaranteed.

What is the minimum loan amount?


Is there a maximum loan amount?

Grassroots can borrow a maximum of $140,000 from its members in any combination as long as the minimum amount for any given loan is $5,000.

Are there any minimum qualifications for investors?

To lend funds to Grassroots an investor must be a Virginia resident and have the financial ability to weather the loss of this investment.

Are the loans transferrable?

No, an investor may not transfer a loan to another party.

Does making a loan to Grassroots confer membership in the cooperative?

No, a separate membership purchase is necessary to become a member. In addition, there are no voting rights associated with a Grassroots loan; you must be a member to vote.

How do I go about making a loan to Grassroots?

Email us: and we will be happy to discuss the program with you.

Grassroots Board of Directors Election Process

What does an overall view of the election process look like?

There are several steps to electing new board members. The board forms a three person nominating committee. The board solicits nominations for potential directors. The nominating committee reviews nominee qualifications and selects 10 to 15 qualified potential board members to fill out an election slate. Grassroots members vote for seven board members from the slate and the top seven vote getters are elected to the board.

What is the overall timetable for elections?

Deadline to form nominating committee: November 20, 2016 Deadline for submitting nominations and qualification sheets: November 30, 2016 Deadline for nominating committee to create candidate slate: December 4, 2016 Voting takes place: December 5, 2016 - January 12, 2017 Board members announced January 12, 2017 at the annual shareholder meeting.

What are the duties and responsibilities of a Grassroots board member?
When does the new, elected board take office?

The new board will take office January 19, 2017.

How does one become a nominee for the board?

A Grassroots member may nominate him or herself or another member. Potential candidates must be Grassroots members in good standing. A nominee would then either fill out the online Grassroots board candidate qualifications questionnaire or fill out the Grassroots board candidate qualifications sheet (pdf) and email it to The deadline for sending a Grassroots board candidate qualifications sheet is November 30, 2016.

How is the nominating committee selected?

The current board of directors selects the three members of the nominating committee and designates one of them as committee chair.

How are nominees selected for the slate of candidates to be voted on by members?

The nominating committee has been tasked with selecting nominees who are well qualified and positioned to assist in the development of the organization and who share the vision for Grassroots.

Is there any other way for a nominee to be placed on the slate?

If a nominee is not selected for the slate by the nominating committee, he or she can be placed on the slate by way of petition. The candidate would need to gather signatures from 50 Grassroots members stating they would like to see this particular individual on the slate.

How and when will the members be notified to vote?

Members will be notified by December 5 how and where to vote. Notifications will be sent to members via email and social media. Votes can be cast anytime prior to or on the date of the annual member meeting to be held January 12, 2017.

How will the vote take place?

Voting will be conducted using an on-line tabulation application that is yet to be installed on the Grassroots website or by paper ballot at the annual meeting. Each owner of record of Grassroots shares (memberships) will receive one vote for each of seven candidates (seven votes spread across seven candidates) no matter how many shares are owned. For example, an owner of a single membership will cast votes for seven of the potential board members on the slate. An owner of 10 memberships would do exactly the same - cast a single vote for seven different candidates. The timeframe for voting will be from December 5, 2016 to January 12, 2017. A quorum of 33% is required to carry any vote.

How will the winners be announced?

New board members will be announced at the annual meeting on January 12, 2017 and via email, social media, and the Grassroots web site on January 13, 2017.

What if I have questions?

Please feel free to email us at

Social Mission

The goal of Grassroots Local Market is to strengthen the Lynchburg Community by providing a full service grocery store with access to fresh, affordable food to residents of downtown and the surrounding area. By forming a community owned and governed full service natural foods store, we will provide a one-stop shop for natural, organic, and local foods, help relieve the downtown food desert, improving the vitality of downtown Lynchburg.

Our goal for starting the co-op downtown is to provide a readily accessible community resource to residents living, working, and shopping in the downtown and surrounding area who want and deserve access to fresh high quality local food options.

Throughout the development of this co-op, the board has learned of food related challenges facing the City of Lynchburg. Many members and interested citizens have expressed their desire to see Grassroots Local Market develop a social mission that contributes to the improvement of the quality of life of Lynchburg’s most vulnerable citizens. The following items are focus areas for Grassroots’ social mission and directly affect the lives of Grassroots’ neighboring residents.

Food Deserts

Lynchburg has been identified as having the single worst rate of low food-access in the state of Virginia. (Food Deserts in Virginia, 2014). The state as a whole has a low food-access rate of 17.8 percent while the low-access rate for Lynchburg is 26.4 percent (19,952 individuals), the highest in the state.

The presence of food deserts in Lynchburg’s most low-income, underserved neighborhoods has a profound impact on individuals living in poverty. A food desert is not just about low access to fresh food, but rather a combination of distance to a supermarket and low income which precludes a citizen from having easy access to personal transportation.

Currently, the Lynchburg Community Market is the only source of fresh, local food in the largest urban food desert in the city. The community market is open five days per week, but only operates as a center for fresh food on Wednesdays and Saturdays. 

The presence of Grassroots Local Market will alleviate the impact of downtown Lynchburg’s food desert. Groceries, including fresh fruit and vegetables, will be available seven days per week at affordable prices.


The City of Lynchburg’s poverty rate is currently 24%, significantly higher than the state average of 15.9%. A high concentration of poverty exists in the same neighborhood as Grassroots Local Market. For decades, this area has been without a grocery store. Despite its urban population and walkable streets, downtown Lynchburg is devoid of any grocery stores with fresh food options. Convenience stores are clustered throughout upper downtown, but lack any inventory of fresh food. Lynchburg’s citizens in poverty are especially vulnerable to the health implications of living in a food desert, as transportation to other neighborhoods can be challenging or inaccessible.

Grassroots Local Market is committed to serving Lynchburg’s underprivileged equitably. During the June membership drive, the co-op collected a significant number of donations for memberships that will be donated to families living in poverty through non-profit organizations in the community. This not only gives the resident access to member discounts and offers, but also gives voting rights as a co-op member and a voice for the future of the store.


Grassroots Local Market is committed to making fresh food accessible and equitable for all Lynchburg citizens. Grassroots’ has learned that educating Lynchburg’s citizens on preparing and cooking fresh food is important to the cultural adoption of healthier lifestyles.

Grassroots is planning to partner with organizations like the Lynchburg Area Food Council, the Virginia Tech Cooperative Extension, and the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank to teach classes on buying and cooking fresh food. Grassroots Local Market has also developed a partnership with the Lynchburg Community Market to combine education efforts for a greater impact.

View a list of Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Use the questions and answers below to gain a better understanding of:

> cooperative organizations

> how to become a member

> membership benefits

> and MORE!

What is a co-op?
  • A cooperative organization is created to fill a need in the community.

  • The co-op does not have one owner, but multiple members.  Rather than having one investor, individuals contribute small amounts of money to form the organization to fill the needed service.

  • A co-op refers to an organization that is started, owned, and governed by its members.

  • Co-ops are democratically-owned organizations where the members elect a Board of Directors who oversee the operation of the store.

How is a Co-op different from a publicly held corporation?
  • In a stock corporation each share of stock receives a vote for the board = the more shares and individual owns, the more votes they receive.

  • In a co-op, each membership receives only one vote, no matter how many shares are owned.

  • In a co-op, each member has an equal voice in Board elections and provides a stronger voice in the type of store created. The store is an extension of the community.  It is Directed, Controlled, and Governed by the members.

Is the co-op a non-profit?
  • Co-ops are for profit commercial enterprises. We are not a non-profit.

  • Our goal is to create a sustainable enterprise that generates enough income to succeed in business while providing the types of services desired by the members, paying decent wages to employees, and contributing to the overall goals of the community.

Will the store be open to members only? Or can the general public shop too?
  • The store is not a members-only operation. 

  • Anyone can join the cooperative.

  • Everyone is welcome to shop in the store, member or not.

How do I become a member of the Lynchburg Food Cooperative (Grassroots Local Market)?
  • A one-time fee of $200 per individual or household is collected.

  • An installment plan is also available. If you choose this installment plan, the initial payment is $50 and $30 a month for the next five months for a total of $200.00. Click here to view installment plan.

Click here to become a member.

What are the benefits of becoming a member?
  1. Help your community fill a real need. Our goal is to provide a readily accessible, full service downtown grocery. Your membership helps to create and sustain the cooperative and thereby build and operate the store.

  2. You may receive monetary rewards.  A co-op is a for-profit company, but because it is democratically organized, if the co-op makes a profit, you may receive a dividend. Additional benefits may include member only events, sales, and discounts.

  3. You are supporting your local farmers and economy.  We will attempt to source our products locally.  Not only will you benefit from fresh produce, but you’ll support your local economy.

  4. Once a member, you become a stock holder and part-owner in the company.  

Are there annual fees and commitments of membership?


  • The $200 membership contribution is a one-time fee.  There are no annual maintenance fees or any other costs associated with membership.

  • The $200 contribution is the only liability of the member.  Members are not responsible for any of the debts or other obligations of the co-op.

  • There is no work requirement for membership.  You will not be asked to work in the store.

Is it possible to cancel my membership and/or receive a refund?
  • The $200 is refundable at the discretion of the Board of Directors.

What can I do to help get this grocery started?
  1. JOIN: Become a member.  We need your membership.  Visit the “Join/Become a member tab” (INSERT LINK) where you can join online anytime. Not a member yet? Join here.

  2. PROMOTE: Not only do we need your personal support, but that of your friends, families, and neighbors as well.  Please tell them about this initiative and direct them to our website, Like us on Facebook.  Follow us on Instagram. Sign up for email updates.

  3. PARTICIPATE: If you would like to help we have several committees in need of volunteers.  Email us to get involved.

As a community, we have a remarkable opportunity to create the kind of downtown we all want, beginning with a full-service grocery.  Be a part of this change.  This is truly a community initiative, and we need everyone to join to make it work. 

Still have questions?

Please email us and we will be happy to address your questions or provide additional clarification.