“Food for People, Not for Profit”
A food cooperative/co-op is a grocery store organized as a cooperative. Finally, another organization shares one of our favorite ways to eat: for free.
Basically, new members can join, attend an Orientation session and a brief training program, and commit to working a minimum amount of hours per week. Once they have completed their week’s hours, members are eligible to receive significant discounts on organic produce, coffee, dairy, and bread products of the freshest quality. Essentially, you work for your food- for as little as three hours a week. Only members are allowed to shop at the Co-Op, and membership is open to everyone.
While it may seem a little too crunchy-granola hippie for some of you New Yorkers, the Bitches on a Budget respect the environment, and have no problem contributing our labor for extremely discounted goods. Members must pay a non-refundable joining fee of $25 as an investment to the Co-Op (but if you cancel your membership, you get the money back). The joining fee must be paid sometime in the first four weeks of joining.
The two most prominent New York food Co-Ops are located in park Slope and on the Lower East Side. They both carry a wide variety of products, including local and organic produce, pasture-raised and grass-fed meat, free-range poultry, fair-traded chocolate and coffee, imported and local cheeses, freshly baked bread, bulk grains and spices, and environmentally safe cleaning supplies.
Park Slope Food Co-Op (782 Union St, Brooklyn) was founded in 1973 by a small group of neighbors who wanted to make healthy, affordable food available to everyone who wanted it. Members must work once every four weeks in exchange for 20-40% savings on all grocery items. To join, you must pre-register and attend a new member orientation. Four Orientations are held each week (Mon and Wednes at 7:30p, Wednes at 10a, and Sunday at 4p). Fill out the appropriate forms after your training session, and wait for the goodies to roll in!
4th Street Food Co-Op (58 E. 4th St) opened in 1995 and is run mostly by unpaid Working Members (some of whom volunteer extra time). The 4th Street Co-Op mandates a three-hour per week work minimum. A weekly working membership is $25/year, which grants a 20% off discount and 2.25 hours per week work minimum. Students get an additional 3% discount.
Next time you’re bored and hungry, do some research and see if this is something you’d be interested in committing to. Three hours a week (or work once a month) for a tremendous amount of savings is something that works with almost everyone’s schedule.