Frequently Asked Questions

What is a food co­op? What’s the difference between a co­op and a grocery store?

A food co­op is started by people in a neighborhood who want to create an alternative to local grocery stores and supermarkets. At a grocery store, there is an owner and then there are the consumers who shop there. At a food co­op, the owners and the consumers are the same people. As a member, you own and operate the food co­op along with your neighbors.

What does it mean to be a member?
When you join a food co­op you pay a small fee and become a member, which means you are able to shop there. It also means that you have made a commitment to volunteer a set amount of hours every month. The food coop is run democratically and members vote to elect the Board, who determine the policies that govern the coop. Members also have input into the types of products and services provided at the coop.

How does a food co­op benefit me and my community?
If run successfully, a food co­op can have many benefits, which include the following:

  • Because food co­ops are largely volunteer­-run, they typically provide a far less expensive alternative to supermarkets.
  • Food co­ops are generally committed to offering healthy food options and supporting local farmers by selling produce grown locally.
  • A community-­based food co­op in Central Brooklyn can make it easy, environmentally sustainable, and affordable to buy good food, while strengthening ties between our neighbors.

What is the history of food co­ops in Central Brooklyn?

Food cooperatives formed by black Brooklynites have a history that goes to the early 20th century. Since then, various food justice and community self­-determination activists and movements have organized coops, people’s groceries and other community­-owned food collectives. This effort is a part of that history and evolution.

What neighborhoods will it serve? Where will it be located?

We want to build a food coop that serves Bedford-Stuyvesant, North Crown Heights and the surrounding low- and moderate- income neighborhoods of color.  In spring 2018, CBFC Members determined that the commercial corridor along Fulton Street (between Ralph and Nostrand Avenues) would be the best general area for the CBFC storefront. (See analysis here.) We are in the process of searching for suitable property within, or close to that area.  

Who is eligible to become a member? Can anyone shop there?

The Central Brooklyn Food Coop is a members­-only model. Anyone, regardless of where you live, can become a member, but only members can shop there. Members purchase a share of the coop, a one time investment fee, and volunteer their time to keep the cost of operating low. However, we may set aside certain days during the month when non-­members can shop as well.

Are there other coop models? Why is CBFC members-­only?

Yes, there are other coop models that coops in Brooklyn and nationwide adopt. There’s a non- members model which means that the coop is open to the public. In this model, shoppers don’t volunteer their time and prices are slightly higher to cover cost of operation. In a mixed­-model, there are two tiers of prices, those for members and those for non­-members. Members volunteer their time and therefore pay a lower price.

CBFC organizing members held a teach­-in session in March 2014, where all the models were presented: Non-­Members, Members­-Only and Mixed­-Model. We voted on a Members­-Only model. This model ensures that the prices are as low as they could possibly be and fosters a stronger sense of community as members volunteer and make decisions about the food coop.

How can I become a member of the Central Brooklyn Food Cooperative?

To become a CBFC member-owner, you will have to attend an orientation, make a small financial investment and contribute monthly work hours.

  • Orientation:  
    • CBFC New Member Orientations are held monthly. Check the calendar for the latest Orientation dates! 
  • Membership Fees:

All Invested members are required to pay a joining fee and investment fee.  The joining fee is non-refundable. Fees are per person, not per household.

  • Members receiving any form of income assistance:
    • Investment fee -$15.00; Joining fee- $5.00
  • Members not receiving income assistance:
    • Investment fee – $125.00; Joining fee – $25.00
  • CBFC Work shift:  
    • During our planning phase, before launching our storefront we are asking invested members to either attend our monthly general membership meetings and/or join one of our three committees: Outreach and Membership, Business and Strategy, Finance.  Key decisions about the CBFC are incubated in committees and then brought to general membership meetings for a vote. The best way to influence decisions is to join a committee. Plus, we welcome new energy and ideas! After the doors open, invested members will be required to work 3-hours a month.  

The food coop is run democratically and members vote to elect the Board, who determine the policies that govern the coop. Members also have input into the types of products and services provided at the coop.

What are the prices like?

The food co­op prices are set by members. We have a sample price sheet that compares prices between local supermarkets and food co­ops in Brooklyn.

What kind of food will be there?

The food selection is set by the members based on their preferences. Typically they offer organic and vegan options, as well as more conventional mainstream choices.

Are there examples of other successful food co­ops in the area?

New York City has several. Food co­ops have recently opened in Fort Greene, Bushwick and Prospect­Lefferts Garden. The oldest, largest and most successful of them all is Park Slope Food Coop (PSFC), which has over 16,000 members. PSFC is supporting and mentoring our food co­op organizing process.

Who is leading this effort?

The food co­op coordinating committee is an independent collective of local activists. Organizing members created, approved and voted on the Mission Statement, Core Values, By Laws and Values Charter for the past since 2013. The food co­op was originally organized and incubated by the Brooklyn Movement Center (a community organizing group based in Bedford- Stuyvesant and Crown Heights), and is also supported by other community based organizations.

Still have questions? Ask us here.