What is a co-op?

Cooperatively-owned businesses are an alternative economic model.

Cooperatives are member-owned, member-governed businesses that operate for the benefit of their members according to common principles agreed upon by the international cooperative community. In co-ops, members pool resources to bring about economic results that are unobtainable by one person alone. Most simply put, a cooperative is a business:

  • voluntarily owned by the people who use it, and
  • operated for the benefit of its members.

Statement of Cooperative Identity

The International Cooperative Alliance, established in 1895, is considered to be the final authority for defining cooperatives and the principles by which they operate. The organization has made three formal statements of cooperative principles over the past 100 years in an effort to keep them relevant to the contemporary world. At its 100th anniversary meeting in September 1995 in Manchester, England, the Alliance adopted the following “Statement of Cooperative Identity.”

Definition

A cooperative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically controlled enterprise.

Values

Cooperatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, cooperative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility, and caring for others.

The Cooperative Principles

The cooperative principles are guidelines by which cooperatives put their values into practice.

1. Voluntary and Open Membership

Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political, or religious discrimination.

2. Democratic Member Control

Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary cooperatives members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote), and cooperatives at other levels are also organized in a democratic manner.

3. Member Economic Participation

Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the cooperative. Members usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any of the following purposes: developing their cooperative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the cooperative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.

4. Autonomy and Independence

Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their cooperative autonomy.

5. Education, Training and Information

Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperatives. They inform the general public – particularly young people and opinion leaders – about the nature and benefits of cooperation.

6. Cooperation Among Cooperatives

Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional, and international structures.

7. Concern for Community

Cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities, through policies approved by their members.

Welcome to Just Food Co-op!

We are Northfield’s community-owned natural foods market and deli, and we're proud to be your source for fresh, local, and organic food and sustainable household and personal care products. We also happen to be owned by 2,600 of your friends and neighbors. Click here to find out why. »

today @ the deli (7.31)

Run for the Board!

We need YOU to run for the Board!

Wanted:  Members that are interested in being on the Just Food Co-op Board.  Find all the application materials right here!  You may also pick up a set of materials in the store.

Submit all materials by August 15.  Need more info?  Two information sessions are available for you:  Tuesday, August 5 and Thursday, August 7 in our community room.  Stop in and get your questions answered!

Upcoming Events

Coffee with the Board
Saturday, August 2, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Gluten Detectives Meeting
Monday, August 4, 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Knitting Night
Monday, August 4, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Knitting Night
Monday, August 11, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
MEMBER EVENT: Red Barn Pizza Sunday
Sunday, August 17, 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm

See more and register for events