Sustain Good Food Enterprises Food Co-ops toolkit

Who will run your food co-op?



Whether you're part of a small community group, a larger organisation or an individual who's decided to set something up from scratch, you'll need to think about the people you need to make your food co-op a success.

Who you are likely to need

  • Organisers i.e. people involved in the planning of the logistical aspects of the food co-op, such as leading group meetings and on-going planning, such as booking a space in a University,
  • Workers i.e. people, either volunteers or paid staff, who are responsible for the day-to-day running of the food co-op, and
  • Customers i.e. people who will be buying food from the co-op.

In consumer co-operatives the organisers, workers, and customers of the food co-op are often all the same people, as everyone has to become a member to shop there and everyone joins in to help to run and develop the co-op. Conversely, in community food co-ops nowadays, these groups of people are usually more separate and the co-ops are increasingly open to everyone, not just to members.

The structure your food co-op will depend on what the people involved want (see Policies and Principles for more information on this). However, it is worth considering that to succeed, a food co-op must have enough volunteers or staff to carry out the work as well as enough customers to be able to order sufficient quantities from suppliers and cover any costs.

Engaging with a wider support network of people

As a committed group of people are key to a thriving food co-op, it is a good idea to hold a public meeting or event to discuss the idea of creating a food co-op. Invite along people who you think may be interested in creating and participating in a food co-op. This may be your friends or family, colleagues, fellow students, parents at a local school, or other local residents. 

You may also want to invite people from potential partner organisations, such as the local council, primary care trust, college or university students' union, community groups or residents associations. These groups won't be directly involved in running the food co-op but may be able support it in other ways. For example, you may be offered free stall space, equipment or training.

On the day of the meeting, be sure to discuss how much time people can offer and what they would like to see from their local food co-op.

To find more useful food co-op related information visit our homepage

Food Co-ops toolkit: The Food Co-ops Toolkit will give you all the information you need to set up your own food co-op.

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