Guest Post by Marie Moser, a former blogger, couponer & member of a Utah food co-op for the past several months.
For the past six months my husband and I have been ordering food via the Crossroads Urban Center Community Food Co-Op of Utah. This non-profit organization plays many parts in our community, but namely it is a resource for families to obtain healthy, high quality food at 30-50% savings through collective purchasing. In addition, they build a strong sense of community by bringing people together to work towards a common purpose and goal. When you see the Co-op at work within your community, you know that it’s about more than just good food and good prices; it is about doing good deeds. In neighborhoods along the Wasatch Front and beyond, it is about people sharing a part of themselves for the betterment of their community.
Freshness and Selection
They offer a wide variety of the freshest food for the best value, whenever possible working directly with local Utah farmers and producers – such as Colosimo's Sausages, Stone Ground Bakery, Mountainview Mushrooms, Palace Meats and Tree Hugger Granola
Your Monthly Order Makes a Big Difference
The more people who participate, the greater the savings become, because it allows the Co-op to buy larger and larger quantities at discounted rates. These savings can make a world of difference – refrigerators full of meat and produce mean families that don't have to depend on the emergency food system.
The Co-op is for everyone. Whether you are struggling to meet your basic food needs or are just looking for a way to share in a community, you can be part of this simple exchange: giving and receiving.
Why Should You Join?
Every member makes a difference. Through the Co-op’s collective purchasing power, volunteer labor and low overhead, they can consistently offer quality, healthy food at up to 50% below retail. It's your order and volunteer time, combined with hundreds of others, that makes this all possible. Together, we are building a grassroots food distribution system dedicated to promoting people's access to affordable, nutritious food – and having a lot of fun in the process!
How Does It Work?
Each month, members pre-order their groceries. You can order as many “shares” as you like, and how often you place an order is up to you. On distribution day (generally the third or fourth Saturday of every month), a network of volunteers help distribute the food to “team sites” all along the Wasatch Front where you can pick up your order. Team sites are sponsored by local churches, schools, non-profit organizations and community centers, but are open to everyone.
What's the Catch?
Cooperation – the Co-op can't work without it. The food or “share” prices include two hours of your volunteer time – either with the Co-op or in your local community. While we encourage everyone to take part in the Co-op itself at least once a year, our volunteer requirement is very flexible and can be anything you do for someone outside of your family for free! You log your volunteer hours when you pick up your food on distribution day, and will even have the option to bank your hours for future months.
How Do I Join?
It's easy! Anyone can join – if you eat, you qualify! They do ask that with your first order that you pay a $5 lifetime membership fee, but it is only with your first order. Otherwise it is as easy as 1-2-3:
- Select a team site and place your food order online before the order deadline. You will receive an e-mail confirmation of your order and have up until the order deadline to change it if needed.
- On distribution day, head down to your selected team site and pick up your order. It’s that simple.
- And don’t forget to take your own bags or boxes to bring your food home!
There are many options for ordering through the Co-op and 2010 has brought a few changes to the ordering system, so here are the nuts and bolts:
Meat Share: ($15) includes 4 fresh meat items. Ground beef is always a staple for most families, so that is always included month to month. In addition there are often pork chops, ribs, steaks, pork loins, turkey and other various cuts and types of meats.
Standard Share: ($24) includes one meat share and one produce share.
Fair Trade Items: (same rules apply as add-ons) rich and delicious products benefiting small-scale farmers and the environment. All the fair trade items are organic and generally they include coffee and tea options.
When ordering, you can order as few or as many things as you like and in any combination. For instance, for a family of 4, you can order a standard share plus an additional meat share and pay $39. Or if you prefer more produce to meat, you can order one standard share and an additional produce share at a cost of $34. The options are endless and they are up to you! You can also choose NOT to order one month, and it won’t affect your ability to order the following month.
Now, I know that some of you have these statements going through your minds: “That won’t feed my family of four for a month!” or “I can buy all that in the store for cheaper with sales and coupons!” And you know what? Both statements are true. But keep these two things in mind: 1) this one order isn’t meant to feed your family for a month (unless you buy one standard share for each family member each month), it is meant to supplement your grocery store purchases; and 2) you might be able to purchase the same amount of food in the store with coupons and sales for less than you are paying with the Co-op, but keep in mind that there aren’t a lot of coupons available for meat and produce items AND think of the good you are putting back into your community by participating in this program.
February 2010 Ordering Information: Order due date is Friday, February 12, 2010 at midnight. Order online by signing up HERE. Select your team pick-up site. There are several locations to choose from in communities all along the Wasatch Front, from Ogden to Nephi and Tooele to Heber City.
So, now that all the technicalities are out of the way, what do you think? Is the food co-op for you? Would you be willing to try it for a month or two and see what you think? Please feel free to post your questions or comments here. I would be happy to address and answer any of them that I can.