Walk into our FCS community room two Wednesdays a month, and you’ll find neighbors unpacking boxes of canned goods, sorting fresh cucumbers and carrots, or supervising the efforts. We partner with Urban Recipe, who organizes a food cooperative for our neighborhood.
The co-op model offers a creative and dignified alternative to traditional, food-centered ministries. Participants join a 50 family co-op, where members are selected as leaders to run the bi-weekly meetings. But everyone pitches in! There is a shared expectation that everyone will show up on time (or call to let leaders know you’ll be late) and help to unload the delivery truck and sort the food into boxes for each family present.
One Wednesday, women sat in a circle, dividing up greens, avocados, and other vegetables into ziplock bags for each box. They talked and laughed while they worked, which is one of the values of Urban Recipe’s program. On their website, Urban Recipe says, “Because of the consistency and sense of ownership the model offers, our co-ops not only provide food security for those in need, but are a place where relationships are formed, dignity is affirmed, and community is strengthened.”
A participant shared how much she loves the fresh fruits and vegetables available through the food co-op. Though some women admitted they occasionally encounter vegetables like Brussels sprouts or asparagus that are not favorites.
After boxes have been prepared, families may gather for prayer and a scripture reading, which again affirms the community and spiritual-based aspects of the co-op model. One longtime co-op member said sometimes women stay until noon or two o’clock, even though co-op begins at ten in the morning. There is a connection that is formed as families participate over time.
Donors subsidize the cost of purchasing food for the co-op, but each member pays a $4 fee each Wednesday, along with their sweat equity, to off-set costs incurred by the gathering. It’s a food ministry model that shares at its core the values of FCS.
If you’re interested in learning more about hosting your own food co-op, Urban Recipe offers trainings. For 2017, they are scheduled for August 8 and November 14. You can learn more here.