Sunflowers at West End Store

By Alexis Alexander, GreenStar Membership Manager

I’d like to extend a warm welcome to all new and returning college students and wish you a fulfilling and successful academic year. If you’re reading this article, we’re excited that you’re interested in learning more about GreenStar, a values-based, community-owned food cooperative driven by a mission to help create a better and more just world. As a triple bottom line organization, we place people and planet on an equal plane with profit, and work to promote social, environmental, food, and economic justice each and every day.

How does this relate to Pell Grants and other support programs? We want to invite recipients of such benefits to take part in our healthy-food-access program, FLOWER — Fresh, Local & Organic Within Everyone’s Reach. This initiative offers access to organic and eco-friendly foods and products to more members of our community, including those affiliated with our local colleges. It’s a great example of GreenStar’s food and economic justice efforts in our community.

Program participants receive a 13-percent discount for most purchases in the store, including nonfood items. If you receive a Pell Grant or other benefits — such as SNAP, Medicaid, WIC, Public Assistance, SSI — or if you partake in the local Healthy Food for All program, then you qualify for FLOWER.

Although FLOWER is an “owner benefit” (everyone who joins the co-op is an owner!), if you qualify for FLOWER but are not and have never been an owner, GreenStar will give you a free one-year trial Co-op ownership. This enables you to determine if the program works for you and your budget at no cost to you, and provides you with all other owner benefits, including special Owner Deals, Owner Coupons, and voting privileges, to name a few. After the first year, if you like and want to keep receiving the FLOWER discount, you can reapply for the program and pay the annual Co-op equity payment of $5 or $10 — the choice of payment is yours, depending on what you feel you can afford, there is no difference in owner benefits based on what you pay.

Applying for FLOWER is easy. You can either download and print the application or pick up a hard copy at any of our three stores. Ask any cashier for an application, or if you are in our main store in the West End, you can pick one up at the Customer Service Desk.

Once you’ve completed the application, you can turn it in at any of our three locations. Please also bring photo identification (e.g., student ID) and documentation to show that you’re on Pell Grant or another qualifying program. (Pell Grant recipients typically pull up the financial-aid statement showing the award on their phones.)

Generally, it takes up to two weeks to process a FLOWER application. A Membership Department staff person is at the Collegetown store most days (except Labor Day) between 4 and 8:30 pm through Sept 14. Membership staff can process your FLOWER application on the spot!

If you have any questions about FLOWER or GreenStar ownership in general, feel free to email us at membership@greenstar.com or call us at 607-273-2507 ext. 234. We’re looking forward to having you join the Co-op!