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Some Fear New Bylaws Could ‘Corporatize’ Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op

MIDTOWN SACRAMENTO -- There's a growing dispute between leaders at Sacramento's Natural Foods Co-op.

People come for the organic, local foods and they stay for the community.

"I've gone here for so many years and I've seen it improve," said Susan, a Co-op member.

The Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op has been in the community since 1973 but some fear things are changing.

"It really has been like a family, even though it's such a big family, and it's losing some of that family feeling," said Rhonda Rumrey.

Some former Co-op presidents have launched the group "Friends of the Co-op." They're campaigning against the proposed replacement of the Co-op's bylaws.

Rumrey filed a lawsuit to try and push back the vote but it was rejected by a judge.

"I felt it was one of the few choices we had," Rumrey told FOX40.

The group is frustrated new rules were written without input and worry the changes would take control away from members.

"It's become more corporatized and less cooperative," Rumrey said.

"I think that's a gross mischaracterization," said Joel Patrick Erb, the vice president of the Co-op's board of directors.

Erb says after 45 years an update is necessary.

"It's a big store. It's a big business now and we really need to be well-run. And some of the things that worked when we were 100 members don't work now that we have 10,000," Erb said.

Ultimately, the future of the Co-op is up to its members, who are currently voting.

"I think there's a fear. People love this place, they don't want it to change," Erb said.

The voting is open until Sunday and the results will be announced on June 22.