Great turn out for our third birthday community meeting and chili cook-off!

See the Ambler Gazette's coverage and great photos of our event here

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The Artman Home at East Mount Pleasant Avenue and Bethlehem Pike was the scene of the third birthday celebration and chili cook-off for the Ambler Food Coop on Sunday, February 8.

The community room was almost completely filled with a diverse group of people with one thing in common: the desire to get a food co-op open in Ambler. Most agreed that this is more important now than ever, without a food market of any type in the borough.  The audience learned how the Co-op, with its roots in the community, is a solution to the "come and go" history of grocery stores in Ambler, and that Co-ops have proven to be far better at boosting local economies, serving its community and, as one audience member said, "becoming a center of civic engagement."

The crowd was addressed by board members Kathleen Casey, Estelle Dolan and Carly Chelder about the current state of the co-op and the next steps to be taken. One goal for the current year is reaching our first major membership milestone of 400 member households. It was announced that the Co-op is now accepting a monthly installment plan of only $10 per month for those who want to join but not pay the entire $400 equity investment. Installment options of $100, $50 or $25 per month are also still available. 

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Glenn Bergman, General Manager of Weavers Way Co-Op in Mt Airy and Chestnut Hill, also addressed the crowd, as well as Peter Frank, the executive director of the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance. Weavers Way has been helping us through every step of the way. The Ambler Food Co-op, along with Weavers Way and many others, is a member of the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance, a non-profit "co-op made up of co-ops," which seeks to support area cooperative businesses and impact the local economy and community in a positive way. 

A kids' room with babysitters, arts and crafts was a great addition to the meeting. As always, we also had a membership table and t-shirts for purchase.

The highlight of the evening was the chili cook-off. Judges Brande Plotnick of tomatoenvy.com, Dennis Darr of Alice Bakery and Confections (soon to open their second location, here in Ambler), and the owners of Ambler's own Sweet Briar Cafe provided expert opinions on over a dozen entries, which included more traditional flavors alongside vegan and gluten-free options.

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As the winners were announced, everyone else was able to sample the chili, as well as a spread of cornbread, biscuits, veggies, and desserts. 

Thank you to everyone who participated and who came to the meeting, especially those who were there for the first time. We are all looking forward to what this Co-op will do in 2015!