ASUW Student Food Cooperative Bulk Buying Storefront

Executive Summary:

The ASUW Student Food Cooperative (SFC) proposes a cooperatively run Bulk Buying Storefront, selling locally sourced, organic dried goods and cooking essentials. The Bulk Buying Storefront will be run out of the slightly refurbished HUB 131 kitchenette and will be available to all University of Washington students and staff. We are requesting $2500 for our initial bulk goods budget, and anticipate the rest of the costs to be funded through our ASUW budget. We will be providing these goods to students at a reduced cost in comparison to other bulk buying stores, and therefore anticipate generating only enough revenue to be financially sustainable and perhaps repay the CSF as a loan in at least two years.

The ASUW Student Food Cooperative is heading this project. To find out more about the SFC, you can read more at our website, We also have been working closely with Sean Farris of Student Life and have received support from ASUW.

Student Involvement:

The Storefront will be entirely staffed by student volunteers from the University community and the current members of the Student Food Cooperative. The students will be volunteers, but will get some sort of discount, perhaps 10-15% off of all items in the store. We anticipate having anywhere from around 30-40 volunteers, to allow for flexibility within student’s busy schedules. Each volunteer will be expected to work one to two, two-hour shifts per week, signing in and out of schedule books and filling out daily sanitation and organizational check lists. The role of the general storefront volunteers will be to sell all bulk-goods to students, be an educational tool for customers, and do all daily tasks. ASUW SFC Co-managers shall regularly oversee volunteers to ensure proper service and adherence to safety regulations. If volunteers fail to come to shifts without finding a replacement or notifying their shift manager, the Co-manager may discontinue their volunteer status. Absences will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Volunteers shall in return complete quarterly evaluations regarding management structure, leadership, and our products. The ASUW SFC shall conduct quarterly evaluations of all volunteers and members. All volunteers and operational managers will meet on a monthly basis to check in on ordering, promotion, sanitation, to voice opinions and ideas, and to connect with each other. In addition to general members, there will also be opportunities for leadership roles that go beyond the day-to-day tasks of running the storefront, outlines below.

The following are descriptions of the roles and responsibilities of the employed and internally selected representatives of the ASUW Student Food Cooperative.

  1. Organizational and Operational Managers:
    1. Cooperative Co-Managers
    2. Financial Officer
  2. Committee Coordinators/Members: Visioning, Fundraising, Membership & Outreach, Publicity, Education & Programming
  3. Liaisons: UW Farm, ASUW, Central Co-op
  4. Member Volunteers: Upkeep, daily tasks, monthly staff meetings

First and foremost, we want this bulk-buying space to be an opportunity for students to create a community centered around food sovereignty, one in which the students can learn from each other not just about food but about the cooperative model and leadership roles within it.

Education & Outreach:

As a new entity on campus, it will be critical for the Bulk Buying space to be widely publicized and marketed around campus. To both recruit possible workers for the space and to attract customers, the following recruitment plans will be enacted:

Media: social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms, will be used in conjunction with traditional print media through the UW Daily spread word of the Bulk Buying Club and what it stands for.

Active Recruitment: The ASUW SFC will actively recruit members to work in the Bulk Buying Club through tabling, presenting in lectures, and partnering with various other campus entities and student organizations. The ASUW SFC will also work closely with the Office of Volunteer Opportunities to connect interested interested members of the UW community with the Bulk Buying Club.

Grand Opening: a grand opening celebration for the space will be widely publicized, possibly featuring music or other attractions. Either discounts or giveaways will be offered to a number of the space’s first customers to incentivize interest.

We want the new cooperative space to serve as a powerful educational tool for students to learn about the power of collaboration and cooperatives, local food, sustainable practices, and responsibilities of maintaining a ‘storefront.’ We expect that the storefront will allow for learning not just for those who volunteer with the storefront, but also our customers, who will learn about where their food is sourced, why bulk-buying is a sustainable way to consume food, and why a cooperative model is a self-empowering one. We plan on having information posters and pamphlets available at the store, as well as a book-exchange or library that has books on the topic of food and sustainability. We also want to train our volunteers to be educational tools, available to answer questions or have discussions about the purpose of buying in bulk.

Environmental Impact:
  • Energy Use
  • Food
  • Transportation
  • Waste
Project Longevity:

We are proposing a permanent bulk-buying storefront on the UW campus. We plan on being sustainable financially, both in making profit and also by annually applying for ASUW funding and grant funds. The management and maintenance of this project is long-term, and we hope on being able to expand our store-front space with time if this project proves successful.

Environmental Problem:

All aspects of bulk buying are more sustainable for our planet. Bulk buying reduces waste, as purchasing food in bulk allows for fewer or even no packaging. Less packaging also allows for less energy use. Additionally, we intend to source our food from United Natural Foods Incorporated (UNFI) and Central Co-op, which are both local sources. Local food ensures shorter transportation trips, which reduces carbon emissions and energy use. It also will reduce transportation for students, which will also reduce the University’s carbon footprint from fuel emissions. Finally, our food will be organically produced, which means less water pollution from pesticides traditionally used in food that is not organically grown.

Explain how the impacts will be measured:

One University of Portland study researched the amount of waste diverted by buying in bulk.

Some figures:

  • Bulk almonds would save 72 million pounds of packaging waste for all Americans- so in two years of this program, if we had 200 students for 2 years buying almonds from our storefront instead of in packaged amounts, we would save approximately 96 lbs of plastic waste, just from almonds!
  • Bulk oatmeal would cut packaging waste by one fifth.

See this link for further information:

In addition to the numbers, we hope that having this storefront will allow for students to make sustainable food choices in all aspects of their lives. We want students to think differently about food and food waste and the importance of having control over how and where your food was produced.

Total amount requested from the CSF: $2,500
This funding request is a: Loan
If this is a loan, what is the estimated payback period?: 36months


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Non-CSF Sources:

Project Completion Total: $2,500


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