Groceries are Expensive! A Co-op May Help You Save Money.
We all can agree that grocery prices are on the rise and if you are on a budget, it may be getting harder to stay within your means. Many hear about food co-ops but aren’t really sure what they are and how they can be utilized to make your budget stretch further. Groceries can be a major drain on that budget and instead of sinking all your earnings into groceries and daily purchases, consider joining a food co-op.
What is a food co-op?
A food co-op, also known as a food cooperative, is essentially a grocery store that’s owned by the people who shop there. It provides the community with dairy, meat, vegetables and other essentials just like any other grocery chain store. The difference between a food co-op and a grocery store lies with the ownership. A food co-op is owned and run by people in the community. As such, decisions about the food and groceries available are made by those in the community.
What are the benefits of a food co-op?
- You can buy your groceries and daily essentials at an affordable rate. To do this, the food co-op usually looks for suppliers that can provide shipments at cheaper rates. Since the food co-op is operated with the good of the community in mind, the co-op ensures that the food items are fresh and of good quality. The cooperative may source food items from providers that charge less or are further away to ensure that community members get a better price.
- You also get a say in the kind of food products you purchase, along with being able to try new things. With the help of a food co-op you can guarantee that the ingredients you purchase is 100% organic, vegan, fat or gluten free. This means that there are no dietary restrictions affecting your purchases and you don’t have to spend an inordinate amount of money to maintain your dietary protocols.
- Members don’t have to choose food according to what is available in the store but can put in a request to the food co-op to ensure they get the fruits, vegetables or meat they want.
How does a food co-op work ?
- Food cooperatives are open to everyone in the community. If you are looking to buy food at a lower rate, you simply need to visit your local food co-op. If you want to be more invested in the community and the dealings of a food co-op you can also choose to become a member.
- A membership allows you access to discounts and deals on your purchases. Some co-ops provide a certain amount of money back on each purchase, while others prioritize investments back into the community.
- In order to gain membership to a food co-op one can choose to invest in the co-op either in volunteer service or via payment. A co-op membership gives you a chance to vote on the dealings of the organization which is operated similar to a democracy. Not only does this give equal and fair representation to members of the community, but it also allows you to have a say in what food items the co-op purchases, which businesses to patronize, how to organize sales, etc.
Where to find a food co-op?
You can search for food co-ops in your district online. Another option is to consult a website such as the Co-op Directory Service that is designed for helping you search for the cooperative that is the most ideal for you. Another really great organization that is available in many areas is Bountiful Baskets. Bountiful Baskets is not necessarily a co-op but you can purchase shares of crops each week and go to a local school or church by you to pick them up. These are run by volunteers and you will often be encouraged to volunteer to keep it going in your area.
If you are looking to cut down your expenses and cut grocery costs, consider looking into a co-op by you. Not only can you save money, but it really helps you feel like you are a part of your community and gives you a say as to what grocery items goes into the store.