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East End Food Co-op – Open for Everyone

By Lois Thomson


Kate Safin, marketing and member services manager of East End Food Co-op, said the Co op focuses on a triple bottom line: "People, planet, and then profit. We prioritize people and planet over profit, and we try to create profits by utilizing goods and services, and doing things that promote the health and wellness of people and the planet."

The Co-op does this by offering products that focus on fresh, local, and organic items. "Those are our top priority. We have specific buying guidelines, we don't carry products that have artificial coloring or flavors, harmful ingredients, genetically modified organisms, or anything tested on animals; and we also try to focus on items that are packaged in things that are recyclable, returnable, or generally more sustainable."

She said the Co-op also carries food for special diets, e.g., vegetarian or vegan or gluten-free – things that are popular now, but for a long time could only be found at co-ops. "And many of our staff follow those types of diets and can help you pick the best option, or give suggestions or substitutions."

Safin said almost all meat is locally sourced – within 250 miles of the store. The Co-op also offers a variety of local cheeses. Additionally, the store has a vegetarian café and salad bar that offers healthy selections, including soup, and a juice and smoothie counter.

She added, "The store is full-service. We have every department that every other grocery store has, but it's just focused on things that are organic and have higher-quality ingredients."

Some people believe a co-op is only open to members, but Safin said East End Food Co-op is open to anyone, although people who plan to shop on a regular basis might consider becoming a member. The investment is a one-time payment of $100, with no annual fees. "We take that $100 and it becomes equity in our business, it helps us make improvements to our store; but if you ever want that money back, we're happy to refund it if we're not serving you any more. There's nothing to lose."

Benefits include getting 2 percent off the shelf price every day; and once a quarter, members can choose a transaction where they get 10 percent off. Buying in bulk may result in 20 percent savings, and members receive a discount on various classes that are offered.

"It's a great way to get healthy food and affordable prices, while supporting a community-focused store that keeps money in our local economy. Everyone is welcome to come and check it out. If it's something they think they will be using frequently, it makes sense to make that investment; but we don't want the Co-op to not be accessible."

For more information, call (412) 242-3598, or visit www.eastendfood.coop.



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