A co-op is a business voluntarily owned by the people who use it and operated for the benefit of its members. It’s a simple concept, with profound effects for people, communities and the economy.
Each co-op is unique, but thousands of co-ops around the world have the Seven Cooperative Principles in common:
- Voluntary & Open Membership
- Democratic Member Control
- Economic Participation
- Autonomy & Independence
- Education, Training & Information
- Cooperation among Cooperatives
- Concern for the Community
The Co-op ended our Volunteer Program in September 2014. It was with deep regret that we came to this decision, and we miss having non-staff members involved so directly in the business operations. We truly appreciate every moment of time, skills, ideas, and energy that each of our volunteers contributed.
For more information about this decision, you can review these Volunteer Program FAQs.
Additional Information and Resources:
A number of articles that we have found helpful for reference and background include:
- Unites States Department of Labor information about Eligible Terms for Volunteering
- United States Department of Labor Opinion Letter regarding Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and use of volunteers in co-ops
- “Will work for food? Co-op programs end amid labor law fears” (Associated Press)
- “Who’s Watching Member Labor in Food Cooperatives?”(article from Cooperative Grocer)
- “Member Labor, Member Loans Threatened (article from Cooperative Grocer)
- “Why Some Co-ops Are Killing Off Their Member-Labor Programs” article from Seven Days in Vermont.
- City Market’s GM’s Response to Seven Days article
- Laddie Lushin, Esq., Memorandum
- Member-submitted list of co-ops with current, active member-worker programs
- Monadnock Food Co-op’s take on why they never established a member-worker program at their start-up co-op
- Letter to EEFC Volunteers
- Open Letter to Members Regarding the Decision to End Our Volunteer Program (by former Marketing & Member Services Manager Heather Hackett)
- Volunteer Decision Matrix
Volunteer Program Discussion Meeting Materials and Resources:
An audio recording of our public volunteer program discussion meeting is available on Soundcloud. Click here to hear what board, staff, and members had to say. (Thanks to the Art Institute students who made this recording possible!) You can also read the Volunteer Program Discussion Notes. Center For Victims, who provided facilitation services at this meeting, have also shared member comments that were submitted by way of feedback forms distributed at the event.
No. While we appreciate and support cooperation among cooperatives, we are not currently able to extend member benefits to shoppers that have not invested in a membership share of our Co-op. Many co-ops are able to extend the member discount to members of other co-ops because it’s their practice to charge non-members extra, whereas we offer our members a discount, which affects our bottom line more significantly. Beyond that, there are also differences in how benefits are administered between one co-op to another. In the years to come, we will examine our discount structure as a whole, so we can consider how a courtesy like this may be managed.
Yes and no. The quarterly member discount does stack with other courtesy discounts, but the daily member discount does not. When a member is eligible for other discounts beyond their daily discount, including the quarterly discount, SNAP and Senior, the greater percent discount is applied. No discounts may exceed 20%. For a full list of discount combinations, please click here.
Members enjoy the privilege of special ordering any product offered by our distributors in a case or bulk amount, at a 20% discount from the retail shelf price. Sale items (including Co+op Basics and Co+op Deals) will be sold at the sale price, less the 2% discount for members. Orders are placed through Customer Service, either in person, by phone, or using the online form.
Stop by Customer Service to record any changes to your membership (i.e. add or remove a household member, update your address or phone number, request to refund your share). You may also email firstname.lastname@example.org. All changes must be documented in writing by the primary member.
Unless you request to refund your share, your membership is valid for your lifetime. If you’re not sure whether you’re still a member, Customer Service can check on your membership status and reactivate a lapsed membership.
Every co-op’s purpose is to meet member needs, and fulfilling that purpose requires capital. Member share payments are contributions to the collective capital of the co-op. Our share payment is currently valued at $100, which can be paid in full or $25 quarterly installments. There are no annual fees, and your share is refundable upon request.
To join the East End Food Co-op, to check the status of your membership or to reactivate a lapsed membership, do one of the following:
- Contact Customer Service at 412-242-3598
- Stop by the Customer Service Desk in the front of the store
- Fill out our online form, and then stop by the Customer Service Desk to complete the transaction
Your $100 investment, the current value of a co-op share is paid once and entitles you and your household to the privileges of one membership (one vote in co-op elections). There are no annual fees and the share is fully refundable.
You can pay for your share in two ways:
- One payment of $100
- Four quarterly installments of $25 each
Ownership in your community grocery store offers:
- 2% discount on all daily purchases
- 10% discount quarterly on the transaction of your choice
- Co+op Deals coupons mailed to your home
- Ability to place money-saving Special Orders
- Check-writing privileges for up to $20 over purchase amount
- Option to receive e-receipts electronically for all shopping transactions*
- Access to EEFC Federal Credit Union
- Voting privileges in Co-op elections
- The opportunity to run for the EEFC Board of Directors*
- The opportunity to participate with board committees
- Reduced advertising rates in The Co-operator
- Discounts extended by other businesses through our Community Partners Program*
Members must keep membership active with one of the listed payment plans to enjoy the benefits of membership listed above. In addition, any benefits marked with an * are only available for fully-paid members (not those on installment plans). To join the East End Food Co-op, to check the status of your membership or to reactivate a lapsed membership, simply contact Customer Service at 412-242-3598 or stop by the Customer Service Desk in the front of the store.
No! Our Co-op market is open to the public and membership is not required to make purchases, however there are a number of membership benefits. We encourage you to take a look around and learn more about the benefits of the cooperative business model, and how you can get involved. At East End Food Co-op, it’s way more than just good food. You own it!