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Warwick University Food Co-op

 Warwick University Food Co-op

warwickunifoodcoop at gmail dot com

Our enterprise project

Our enterprise skills & motivations

We are a non-profit student-run cooperative offering sustainably-produced high quality food to the university community at affordable prices. By offering an alternative space to buy food, we want to raise awareness and promote discussion about modes of production and consumption that are more responsible –both environmentally and socially.

Our stall is open every Tuesday afternoon in the Students’ Union Atrium and is entirely run by volunteers. The products we sell include a range of dried foods (lentils, oats, cous-cous…) and canned foods, which we buy from Infinity Foods – a wholesale co-operative based in Brighton. We also use a number of local suppliers: Down to Earth in Earlsdon for our vegbox scheme, Haddie and Trilby in Leamington for fresh bread, and a local beekeeper in Kenilworth for honey.

We sell the produce to members of the Co-op at our buying wholesale price. We cover our running costs from a one-off £5 membership fee and from a 10% margin we charge to non-members.

Over our first two years we established an ever-growing community of volunteers and customers – there are 130 active members this year and even more non-member customers. Together they help move the project forward. We are continuously expanding the range of products we offer – one of the latest additions being fresh bread. Through trial and error we gradually managed to find ways to run our enterprise so it’s sustainable over the long-term.

Our members develop a wide range of skills depending on their role. Many members are involved in discussions about the future direction of the co-operative. This exposes them to many ethical and enterprise questions and teaches them how to approach problems and to take decisions as a team – with all the associated problems. Volunteering at our stall is a great opportunity for practising persuasion skills. Some members take on significant responsibilities in areas such as ordering certain kinds of produce or managing the Co-op’s finances. The skills gained during involvement in the Food Co-op will undoubtedly prove useful for anyone intending to run other social enterprise projects in the future. Having said that, most of the skills are transferable to other contexts.


Our enterprise support

Our enterprise reflections & visions

The Students’ Union provides the Food Co-op with a storage space for our goods and also a market place.

We have not recently taken advantage of further support offered by the university. One of the main reasons is probably that we were unaware of suitable support options – but then again we did not actively search for them.

We definitely encourage other students to get involved as running the Food Co-op has been one of the most rewarding experiences many of us had during our time at Warwick.
We learnt that by doing something we all enjoy we can help the members of the University community to live more sustainably and to think more about where their food comes from.

Plans we are considering for the near future include increasing the awareness about the Co-op across campus and gaining enough volunteers to open our stall two days per week. In the long term we would like to try to find a permanent space on campus as the need to unpack and pack everything each trading day is limiting in many ways.