One of the biggest hindrances to eating healthy, organic, real food is the cost. Why not join with other like-minded individuals and form a local food buying club?
Whether you’re forming a local group or trying to expand or improve your local buying club, consider the following as you seek to make healthy food accessible to all.
Quality Sources of Food
From corporate businesses, to private individuals and farmers, there are a myriad of options for purchasing quality food. Sometimes the food prices are the same, but the shipping costs are reduced significantly as the expense is shared by the group. Bulk buying is an option, which may lower the cost.
The following sites may assist in finding a local source of food that would work with your buying club:
What about Raw Milk?
Familiarize yourself with your state’s legal issues regarding raw milk. Do you want to work together to obtain farm fresh milk? The following resources may help.
Coordinator Job Expectations
Be sure to take into account the following tasks as you consider starting a buying club.
- Taking and keeping track of orders
- Collecting payments
- Submitting orders to the company
- Emailing member totals
- Sorting through orders when delivered to your home
- Arranging pick up
- Vendor communication for damaged/missing items
- Group communication with reminders/announcements/updates
- Website details or Facebook page management
Jocelyn, administrator of the Rincon Organic Buying Club (ROBC) in Southern Arizona, says the leadership role requires a person with the following traits:
- Good communication skills
- Time to commit
- Passionate about providing this service to others
Kim, founder of the Rincon Organic Buying Club (ROBC), says it’s a family affair.
“Enlist your family to participate (or at least get their approval)–it’s a team effort and it may just take over your home!”
Membership Fees or Dues
Some groups start with no fees and add them later as the group expands. An online ordering system may require a small fee. Food Club is a website dedicated to community food-buying clubs. Food Club charges 1% to manage your group’s orders. (The site offers a free, ad-funded option as well.) Another administrative support option is Manage My Co-op, a software program for small and large groups. Learn more here.
Totals on ROBC invoices are rounded to the nearest dollar for accounting ease and to cover other costs. According to Kim,
We round up to even numbers to make our calculations easier and to give me a small bit of money to pay my children for all their hauling and sorting work! Dues might be a good idea…I just see this as our community service/ministry and find that God takes care of us financially for our faithfulness.
Coordinator’s Communication with Members
Most communication will take place online. Send out weekly reminders with updates on orders and upcoming deadlines. Be sure to set boundaries – especially when storing items at your home. As a leader, don’t hesitate to require adherence to deadlines and payment.
Advice for Members
Be flexible. Remember that a buying club is a lot of work and mistakes happen. If you see a need in your group, don’t hesitate to contact your Coordinator and ask how you can help fill that need. Share your garden bounty with your Coordinator or offer a word of thanks. A little goes a long way in terms of appreciation.
Wondering if there is a buying club in your area? Check the Coop Directory or do a google search with your location and the terms “buying club”, “food cooperative”, or “organic food coop”.
Whether you’re in a large city or a small town, you can start your own food buying club or join an existing one. You’ll enjoy the lower food prices as well as the camaraderie!