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Purple Porch Co-op uses federal grant money to expand local, organic food business

Purple Porch Co-op in South Bend received a federal grant last year to improve its business, and the grocery store is putting the money to use broadening South Bend’s options for local and organic food.

The Purple Porch Co-op announced in September that it received a $100,000 federal grant through the United States Department of Agriculture, according to previous reporting by Flavor 574. Funds awarded through the Local Food Promotion Program are meant to improve or expand local or regional food business enterprises, according to the grant description.

Since then, the grocery store has used the grant money to buy three new reach-in coolers, expand its storage space for produce and hire two new employees — one to focus on marketing and the other to build business relationships with local producers. The next big purchase will be a walk-in cooler, said general manager Greg Koehler.

“The idea is to make the store and cafe more efficient,” Koehler said. “We would also be able to be a resource for local restaurants that want to use local products.”

And that means local producers will be able to sell more through Purple Porch, too. The co-op works with distributors within a 60-mile radius of South Bend to sell local and organic products at the store, but also offers regional products from states such as Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin.

With the new additions to the store, Koehler said Purple Porch Co-op is looking to double its sales as well as the number of local producers it currently works with.

Purple Porch Co-Op is located at 123 N. Hill St. in South Bend.

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