After a hit last year, Natural Harvest community dinner back for seconds

The wild rice burgers served at Natural Harvest Food Co-op's first communtiy dinner were a sell-out. The co-op is holding another communtiy dinner from 4-7 p.m. Tuesday serving chili dogs and chips for $4 to celebrate NHFC's 40th anniversary.

VIRGINIA — Natural Harvest’s first community dinner, celebrating the co-op’s 40th year with a $4 meal, was a huge hit.

So why not hold another?

That’s exactly what Natural Harvest Food Co-op will do Tuesday at its store on the shores of Silver Lake. Chili dogs with chips will be available — dine-in or take-out — for $4 from 4 to 7 p.m. Local acoustical group Rob & Jill will provide music.

The inaugural community dinner last February — which kicked off a year of celebrating NHFC’s first four decades — served 250 house-made wild rice burgers, cooked with locally sourced Minnesota wild rice, and fries.

The co-op sold out an hour before the event concluded. Those who showed up after the burgers were gone were treated to a discounted bowl of chili and salad bar.

Burger or no burger, everyone enjoyed the camaraderie, said Briana Sterle, manager of marketing and owner services.

People were just happy to be part of the big community gathering open to everyone — just like the co-op is. Everyone, not just owner/members, are welcome to shop at NHFC.

“We saw lots of new faces” at the dinner, Sterle said. “It was good to see families come in for a good meal.”

Local R&B musicians Sharon Rowbottom and Dan Boyer performed at the first dinner. Rob & Jill promise “to be a hit as well,” she said.

The gathering was “more successful than we ever hoped.”

This time around, the co-op is setting up with extra food to hopefully not run out, Sterle said with a smile.

The goal of the community dinner is “to serve good food at a good price” to commemorate the 40th anniversary of NHFC, which was started as a small buying club by citizens seeking access to a larger variety of nutritious whole foods at more reasonable prices.

It has grown into a 9,000-square-foot store complete with a deli, a daily hot bar and salad bar, a community classroom, and outdoor seating near the lake.

Other co-ops across the country hold community dinners, Sterle said. The dinners promote gathering around the table for a meal — something families don’t always have the chance to do in today’s hustle-bustle world.

“Community” is the key word, she said. Cooperatives are operated under seven principles, the seventh of which is: “Concern for community.” Cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities, through policies approved by members.

NHFC will have a third community dinner later in the year, and the co-op is currently planning its big 40-year celebration from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 24. It will include live music, a magician, and more.

In the meantime, Sterle said, “I’m looking forward to seeing happy faces” on Tuesday.

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