The Food Co-ops project has been helping new food co-ops get off the ground, existing co-ops to thrive and building a network of community food co-ops across the UK since 2008. As a project of Sustain, the alliance for better food and farming, we are passionate about supporting food enterprises that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.
We started our Food Co-op journey as part of the national Making Local Food Work programme when we recruited regional food advisors to help communities set up many new food co-ops across the UK. This project also saw the first iteration of our Food Co-op toolkit and Food Co-op map.
Between 2016 and 2019 we continued to build and support the food co-op network whilst working in partnership with Student Eats, a National Union of Students' sustainable food initiative, to specifically help students across the UK set up food co-ops on their university and college campuses. We helped 30 student groups with training and mentoring, with the majority going on to trade soon after. You can read about some of the student enterprises on the Your Stories page but here are some highlights of what the students achieved by the end of the project:
- Sold over £50,000 of sustainably sourced food
- Diverted 4.5 tonnes of food from landfill
- Created, expanded or improved 28 food growing sites on university or college campuses
- Enabled almost 800 students to improve their employability skills by running the enterprises
- Enabled 250 students to gain skills by attending events/activities run by the enterprises
- Been supported by students volunteering 16,000 hours of their time
Although we are currently 'between funding' for this work we know there is continued interest in buying and selling through food co-ops, buying groups and other community food enterprises. For this reason we hope the resources on this website will prove useful even if we aren't able to offer any personal support for the time being.
Markets and food businesses to benefit from permanent use of outdoor spaces
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Your donation will help us support communities to set up and run food coops and buying groups across the UK to improve access to healthy food.