Food Co-op Update

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The Food Co-op steering group met for the third time on Monday 14th April, in Auchtermuchty Community Centre. We would like to give a big thanks for the enthusiasm and insight of the 18 members that attended. We had some great conversations about what form the co-op should take and now feel able to move further forward in our plans with the backing of our members.

The first part of the evening was given over to a debate between two potential models and on-line platforms the co-op could use. Firstly, there is the option of using open-source technology along the model of Stroudco, a community food hub in Stroud which has been running for a number of years now. This option would require a central co-op co-ordinator, to be funded initially by grant funding, and volunteer support to run the regular food hubs in different locations across Fife. Second, there is the option of setting up a Food Assembly, an enterprise which has recently been introduced to the UK after a successful launch in France. This is an integrated on-line system, which would devolve responsibility from a central co-ordinator to ‘Assembly Leaders’ in each of the hub locations across Fife, and includes a built in financial model by which a percentage of the turnover from each hub goes to both the Asssembly Leader and the Food Assembly website.

We discussed a number of points around both models, including financial sustainability, the relationships between the co-op and food producers that the models would allow, and the capacity for social and community benefit of each. We then took a vote, and the result was 15 – 0 in favour of the open-source model. It was generally felt that in time, Food Assembly could be adopted to help co-ordinate the hubs, but that the Stroudco format would allow more scope for the co-op growing and adapting over time, whilst retaining possibilities for social and community engagement in hubs.

We went on to discuss possible locations for co-op hubs during the initial 6 month pilot. A number of venues were proposed, with local steering group members outlining the benefits of each. We took a second vote on locations, based on where members thought would be a good idea to hold a hub rather than on locations which they would personally choose to attend, and we concluded that Auchtermuchty, Kirkcaldy and Dunfermline would be good geographical locations with suitable venues and willing volunteers to host the first hubs. We felt there would also be scope to hold a hub in St Andrews, but there were not enough local residents at the meeting to confirm this. If you would be interested in helping set up a co-op hub in St Andrews, please get in touch.

Next Steps

Over the coming month Elly will be putting together a more detailed business plan for the co-op and meeting with producers who have expressed an interest in supplying us. The steering group will be meeting again on Monday 19th May (venue to be decided) where we will present this plan and discuss the steps needed to formally constitute the co-op. If you would like to come to future meetings or receive our regular email updates we are now sending out, email elly@fifediet.co.uk to be added to the mailing list.

Full copies of the minutes from Monday’s meeting are available by emailing mags@fifediet.co.uk