Food co-ops

I got this email the other day….

The Making Local Food Work programme has taken on advisers in each government region to support and promote community food co-operatives, out of a belief that they build social cohesion, encourage healthier eating, raise awareness of seasonality, benefit the local economy, keep growing skills alive, bolster local resilience by opting out of the multinational supermarket hegemony…etc

We want to see lots of new food co-ops set up! And to improve the sustainability of those that exist. My role involves finding existing food co-ops  and mapping them on the Food Co-ops Finder website: http://www.foodcoops.org

A food co-op might take the form of a bag or box scheme, a market or stall, or a mobile or part-time shop and may sell fruit, vegetables, wholefoods like dried grains and pulses, or meat and dairy – whatever the community needs. What food co-ops have in common is being owned and run by the community on a not-for-profit basis, usually by volunteers.

Online mapping will hopefully make it easier for people seeking a food co-op to join, as they can stick in their postcode and a map appears with what co-ops exist nearby.

If you’re in a food co-op, please go ahead and add your details to the Food Co-ops Finder website. Even if you don’t want more members, please consider adding yourselves without contact details, for the map’s sake!

If you’re a member of a food co-op I’d love to come see how it’s run, how you’re set up, so I have a chance to learn from different models, and also I can offer you specialist advice both myself and through the partners on the MLFW programme – Co-ops UK, the Soil Association…Perhaps you want to expand your customer base, or to learn consensus decision making because those interminable meetings are driving you mad?

If you don’t have a food co-op near you but you want to join one or set one up, I would like to help you! Setting up a food co-op can be a really easy first step for communities to start taking control.

What i can offer for FREE is:

*The Food Co-ops Toolkit: http://www.sustainweb.org/foodcoopstoolkit/

This is a comprehensive guide to setting up and running a food co-op in all manner of forms. There is a paper version on request.

*Coming to do presentations like ‘How to set up a food co-op’ to your group

*Access to specialist advice on business plans, governance and legal structures, co-operative principles in practice, marketing, financial sustainability

*Training days, workshops, exchange visits to other food co-ops and mentoring

*Local food newsletters

*Colourful leaflets, posters and banners to promote your food co-op

Our target is to help establish at least a hundred new food co-ops nationally – so let’s make the East of England the ‘Bread Basket (or Fruit basket) of Britain’ again!

To find out more about food co-ops and how to establish one where you live, contact:

Gemma Sayers, East of England Food Co-ops Advisor, gemma@sustainweb.org 07971863586

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