The Manchester Students’ Food Co-op is a student-run buyers co-operative that provides ethically sourced food at cost-price to Manchester’s students. The idea is that we buy in bulk a wide range of goods direct from suppliers and then sell these on to our members. What’s great is that because the co-op is run by volunteers, there is barely any mark-up on what we sell, meaning that you – the students – get quality food for a fraction of the price of standard retailers!
The co-op is built around a few core principles. Perhaps most importantly, it’s a way of putting sustainable food at the heart of the Manchester student’s experience. This means bringing in locally-sourced, seasonal and (where possible) organic produce, and making it directly accessible for students. The second key element of the co-op is the relationships that this desire for sustainable food fosters between students and the local community. Whether through the connections we develop with local farmers and other co-ops, or through events and workshops we’ll run, the student co-op creates a space for all things foody to come together in one network. A third pillar of the co-op is its democratic ownership and organisation. There is a large organising committee open to all, and a growing pool of volunteers to run the stalls and events. Importantly, we constantly try to ensure that the organisation is as ‘flat’ as possible – so decisions are not made by a certain few and roles within the committee are unfixed and open.
So that’s the thinking behind the food co-op. In practice, to start with the co-op stall is set to run for one day each week in the UMSU foyer. We will provide a range of wholefoods – grains, pulses, tinned foods, dried fruits etc – and a variety of fresh, seasonal produce from local farms. These stalls are set to begin after Christmas. In the meantime though, there is a lot of exciting work still to do and we want as many people as possible to get involved. Everyone is welcome, so if you want to help out with the co-op in any way, whether as an organiser developing relationships with local suppliers for example, or just as a volunteer on the stall for an hour a week – then please join our mailing list by emailing [email protected], ‘Like’ our Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Manchester-Students-Food-Co-operative/157534167678528, and try and make it to our meetings and workshops whenever you can.
It’s set to be an amazing year for the food co-op, make sure you join us for it!