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  What is a food Coop?
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A food co-op is:
A group of people within a community such as neighbours, friends, work colleagues who buy (fruit and veg) directly from producers or wholesalers.

Quoted in Local Foodworks briefing paper 9

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Q
Does a food co-op have to be complicated with shares profits and dividends?

A
NO – a food co-op can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. They exist throughout Scotland and it is only in the Highlands and Islands that they operate full mutual co-operatives. What you are setting up is community food project. You can call it whatever you like.


Q
Should we have a membership?

A
Again this is up to you. If you do decide to have a membership you should consider how this would be of benefit to the individuals i.e. what do they get in return for their membership. Other points to consider are cost, period of membership and who will manage memberships and renewals.


Q
Are food co-ops only for people on benefits?

A
NO – Anyone in the community can access a food co-op if one exists.


Q
Do food co-ops make profit?

A
Profits in food co-ops are small and all monies are put back in to develop the project to keep prices low and meet local needs.



What a Food Coop can do...

There are many ways in which a food co-op can improve the quality of life in a community:

  • Increases access to affordable fresh fruit and vegetables in your community

  • Improves the range and quality of fresh produce available locally

  • Saving costs: by making single large orders, discounts are obtained which can be shared by all members of the co-op

  • Choice and control: members of the food co-op can make positive choices about their suppliers and quality of food they buy

  • Can be tailored to local needs, for example selling small amounts to elderly customers, making up stew packs, providing recipes to customers

  • Support for local business: co-ops can buy straight from local farmers, growers and other suppliers, thereby supporting local businesses and local jobs as well as reducing food miles

  • Contributes to education on healthy eating, in community settings and through links with local schools and nurseries

  • Benefits local people through volunteer opportunities, giving people retail and management skills which can be transferable to employment, improving confidence and developing social skills

  • Community: sharing in the tasks of running the co-op makes a social event out of your food shopping


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