Cooperation Town has just launched a starter pack to help more communities set up their own food co-ops.
The organisation – a network of community-led food co-ops set up to provide free and affordable food – launched last year with the aim of setting up a food co-op “in every street in every town”.
Its co-ops are small buying groups, providing members with free and affordable groceries, sourced in bulk and distributed at a very low price.
Each co-op is are owned by its members and run according to local needs. Members decide collectively on how to organise and are responsible for the day to day running of the co-op. The co-ops are independent but share resources and support through the network.
During the Covid-19 pandemic Cooperation Town co-ops adapted their infrastructure to mass food distribution and provided thousands of meals every week to vulnerable residents in London, Bristol, Birmingham and Hull.
To build on this success it is now encouraging more neighbourhoods to launch food co-ops, with a starter pack available to download on its website.
It said: “You don’t have to be an experienced community organiser or particularly business-minded to start a co-op.
“A lot of us already organise in our communities, without thinking of what we do as ‘organising’ – we help at the local school, share childcare with our neighbours or we are part of a trade union or a tenants association.
“We all have valuable skills and experiences, which we are happy to share with people around us.”
This pack shows the different stages of establishing a co-op, explains the various sources of food and how to get them and offers ideas for how to organise meetings, find new members and manage the group’s finances.
It also has a troubleshooting section and resources that any new co-op can use and adapt.
Other areas covered include the co-operative principles – specifically 6 and 7: Co-operation among Co-operatives and Concern for Community; the consent decision-making process; and how to reach out to communities.