How we’re different
At Food Front anyone can be an owner of the store and everyone is welcome to shop. Unlike regular grocery stores, cooperatively owned grocery stores are democratically-run organizations that exist to benefit their owners and their communities. Cooperative values reach far beyond the bottom line. That’s why we are committed to supporting local farmers and producers, sustaining our environment, and building a stronger community.
What is a Co-op?
A co-op is owned by people who pool their resources together to meet their common needs. Food Front was created by people who wanted a source of wholesome food. These initial owners bought a share in the co-op and the money raised enabled Food Front to buy its property, build the store, and invest in equipment and inventory. New owners keep us thriving—since all businesses need capital to finance improvements, repairs, new equipment, and potential expansions.
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 7 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 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. They usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any of all of the following purposes: developing the 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:
While focusing on members needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies accepted by their members.
These 7 principles were adopted in Manchester (UK) by the General Assembly of the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA). September 23, 1995, on the occasion of the Alliance’s Centenary. The Statement was the product of a lengthy process of consultation involving thousands of cooperatives around the world.