Q: WHAT is the Greene Hill Food Co-op?
A: The Co-op is a way to get good food at a low cost by working together. The co-op is a group of neighbors in Fort Greene / Clinton Hill / Bedford-Stuyvesant and surrounding areas who are working together to launch a new, not-for-profit cooperative grocery store.
Q: WHAT is a not-for-profit cooperative grocery store?
A: A not-for-profit cooperative grocery store is a grocery store that is owned and run by the people who shop there, called members. Because members pool their resources and contribute most of the work, overhead stays low, prices are lower, and the quality of the products at the Co-op remains high.
Q: WHAT is sold at Greene Hill Food Co-op?
A: Greene Hill Food Co-op offers a wide variety of locally sourced and/or organic meats, dairy products and produce, as well as the highest quality dried beans, grains and spices, fair-trade chocolate and staples like flour, coffee and bread. As we grow we hope also to offer wild and sustainably farmed fish, natural pet foods, vitamins and dietary supplements, environmentally safe cleaning supplies and more. Naturally, our offerings will change subject to member requests and feedback.
Q: WHERE is Greene Hill Food Co-op located?
A: 18 Putnam Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11238 (between Grand Ave. and Downing St.), near the border of Clinton Hill and Bed-Stuy.
Q: WHAT are the Greene Hill Food Co-op store hours?
A: The store is open for shopping on Mondays at 1:30PM – 8PM, Wednesdays at 6PM – 10PM, and Saturdays at 10AM – 4PM.
Q: HOW do I contact Greene Hill Food Co-op?
A: Leave a voicemail at (718) 208-4778 and a member will call you back, OR
- Send an email to email@example.com
- Send correspondence to Greene Hill Food Cooperative, Inc., 18 Putnam Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11238
- Meet us in person at a monthly General Meeting (check here for the General Meeting calendar)
Q: Why should I become a member of the Greene Hill Food Co-op?
A: Benefits include:
Access to healthy, delicious food from local suppliers that is grown organically and in environmentally and socially responsible ways.
- Typically lower prices for equal or better quality products than those available in local markets.
- Involvement and investment in the community.
Q: Who can join Greene Hill Food Co-op?
A: Any adult who pays the Membership Investment and commits to work a shift every four weeks can join – there are no residence or neighborhood requirements. The co-op is committed to building a diverse community.
Q: Will I have to be a member of the Co-op to shop there?
A: Yes, Co-op members voted to be a 100% working Co-op; that is, only members will be allowed to shop there.
Q: What can be done for me, my financial situation and/or physical abilities may prevent me from joining Greene Hill Food Co-op?
A: Having a disability, a financial hardship or other special needs won’t stop you from being a member: we can adjust these requirements to accommodate you. Please contact the Membership Relief Council if you have specific questions or concerns. We are committed to making the Co-op accessible to all members of the community.
Q: Can a business become a member of the Co-op?
A: No. Because we are incorporated as a membership cooperative, only individual humans (you know who you are) can be members, according to the laws of New York State.
Q: Why does the Membership Agreement say everyone in my household must join?
A: Each adult (18+) who shares food in your household must become a member of the Co-op. This helps ensure that the amount of labor and investment coming into the Co-op matches the amount of groceries we sell.
Q: I’d like to join but I’m not able to attend General Meetings to get an application. What do I do?
A: To join online or download an application form, click here. Or call us to get a paper application form in the mail.
Q: How can I tell if the Co-op is right for me before paying my Membership Investment?
A: Attend a General Meeting and learn more about the people and plans. Dates of future monthly meetings and minutes of past meetings are posted on our Web site. You can also visit the Co-op during our open hours (Mon. 1:30-8pm, Wed. 6-10pm and Sat. 10am-4pm) and ask to take a tour.
Q: Will there be member orientations?
A: Yes, each member will be required to watch an orientation video. Orientations will introduce members to the store, its products, and the work shift procedures.
Q: Are there general information meetings?
A: The Co-op holds monthly General Meetings that are open to everyone. They are a great way to stay informed regarding the rapid changes at our growing co-op and to become more deeply involved. Work credit is given for up to three meetings per calender year and can also be used for a make-up credit. Please check the right hand column and/or our events page for date, time and location.
Q: How can I participate in the Co-op?
A: The work involved in getting the Co-op up and running is being performed by various committees that are open to all, including prospective members. Please click here for complete details on how get involved.
Q: I’m not sure I can spare the time to join a committee on a regular basis – what’s in it for me?
A: You can “bank” the time you spend working for a committee and “spend” it later to fulfill your Greene Hill Food Co-op work shift requirements. Much of the committee work currently needed can be done from home and/or on your own schedule.
Q: I’m a member of Park Slope Food Co-op now. Can I help Greene Hill Food Co-op?
A: If you are currently a member of the Park Slope Food Co-op on FTOP status, you can receive FTOP credit for your work on the startup process for the Greene Hill Food Co-op. You can also bank hours with us as you prepare to get on FTOP.
Q: I want to spread the word about the Co-op. What can I do?
A: Help us reach more people in the community by arranging for a Greene Hill Food Co-op representative to make a presentation at your house of worship, PTA, block association, or other neighborhood group. To do so, please email the Outreach Committee.
Q: Can I get electronic updates about the Co-op?
A: Sign up to receive the Greene Hill Food Co-op email newsletter using the form on the right.
Q: Who runs Greene Hill Food Co-op?
A: Greene Hill Food Co-op is a collaborative effort with no one person in charge. We are a formally incorporated cooperative organization with a Board of Directors and Officers. Our Steering Committee, made up of the Chairs of all other committees, also helps operate the Co-op. The actions of the Board, Officers, and Steering Committee are guided by input from the general membership.
Fundraising / Donations
Q: How is Greene Hill Food Co-op raising money?
A: Our primary source of funding is Membership Investments, and that’s why it’s important for you and your family to join now. We are also looking for grants, loans and other donations. The Finance Committee welcomes help from people with grant writing, donor development or event planning experience.
Q: How can I invest further in the Greene Hill Food Co-op?
A: We have a state-approved member loan program, and we gratefully accept donations of used equipment and cash (of course). If you are interested in loaning or donating money to the Co-op or have a fundraising idea, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. All suggestions and ideas are welcome.
Q: I run a small business in the neighborhood and would like to partner with the Co-op. How might that work?
A: We of course welcome support from local businesses, such as donations of gift certificates or other small incentives we can provide to new members, posting of Greene Hill Food Co-op signs in shop windows, and more. Also, our Finance Committee could use assistance from people with experience running small businesses.
Q: Are financial donations to the Co-op tax-deductible?
A: Thanks to our wonderful fiscal sponsor, the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, it is possible to make larger donations in a way that is tax-deductible. Please email email@example.com for more information.
Q: I’d like to donate some equipment that I think you could use. What do I do?
A: Please contact our Design/Buildout committee to discuss options.
Q: How much does it cost to join?
A: There is a $150.00 Membership Investment and a $25.00 administrative fee; the Membership Investment is refundable, subject to certain conditions.
Q: Are there payment plans available?
A: We have four separate payment options in order to make membership affordable to people of all income levels. Complete details can be found on our Join Us page.
Q: Is there a reduced Membership Fee and Investment for people with lower incomes?
A: Yes. People on public assistance and Unemployment are eligible for a Membership Plan that reduces their administrative fee to $5 and spreads investment payments out over five years of installments. Please contact us for more information.
Q: We’re not on public assistance, but my family can’t afford to join. Are you willing to negotiate?
A: If you have a financial hardship that makes it hard to pay the membership investment and administrative fee, please contact us through the Membership Relief Council to explain and we may be able to accommodate you. There is also an installment plan for anyone who prefers not to pay the entire amount at one time.
Q: Why is there an Administrative Fee and a Membership Investment to join?
A: The non-refundable Administrative Fee helps to cover costs to open and operate the Co-op, including bank fees, website hosting, etc. The refundable Membership Investment funds leasing, fitting out and stocking the Co-op.
Q: Will the Co-op accept alternative means of payment such as food stamps?
A: Yes, Greene Hill Food Co-op accepts cash, checks, money orders, SNAP/EBT, and debit cards as payment for groceries.
Q: Are the Administrative Fee and the Membership Investment tax deductible?
A: No, Membership Investments and Administrative Fees are not tax deductible; Greene Hill Food Co-op is incorporated in New York State as a not-for-profit membership cooperative, not a “charitable organization” under Section 501 of the IRS Code.
A: Yes. While you can be a member at both food co-ops, it is required you pay an investment fee at both. HOWEVER, currently you can do a single 2.75 hour work shift (at Greene Hill) every four weeks which will fulfill your requirement at both co-ops. So two investment fees, one workshift.
Q: Why is there a work requirement to be a member?
A. Greene Hill Food Co-op has voted to be a 100% working co-op. That means that every member is responsible for contributing work to the store. Using member labor instead of paid labor helps us keep costs down, and it also helps maintain a sense of community among our members.
Q: How much do I have to work?
A: Currently, our work requirement is 2 hours every 4 weeks. If you work more than that, you can “bank” the time to count toward your requirements in the future (but you can’t “withdraw” from the bank just yet — it’s all hands on deck as we are getting the store open during the winter of 2011-2012). Please note that if you are working at Greene Hill to fulfill a Park Slope Food Co-op, it is your responsibility to make sure you work 2.75 hours in a 4 week period. If you need more flexibility than store shifts allow, you can work on one of the Co-op’s 9 committees. In this case you must work 4 hrs every 8 weeks. Please note that should you fail to work the 4 hrs in 8 weeks on a consistent basis, you will be removed from Committee work and asked to do store shifts..
Q: Do I need to sign up for work shifts as soon as I join?
A: Yes. Look here for more information on workshift signup
Q: What kind of work do I have to do?
A: You have a lot of choices. There are dozens of work shifts that need to be done at specified times at the store, from receiving and stocking of groceries, to cashiering, to greeting members at the door, to walking members out with their groceries, to cleaning and bookkeeping. There’s also a lot of important work to be done for the committees, most of which can be done from home and/or on your own time, if your schedule makes showing up for a regular store shift difficult.
Q: Can I cover my partner’s shift for them?
A: Yes, members may cover one another’s work shifts.
Q: What if an injury/illness/work crisis/etc. makes it impossible for me to work right now?
A: Any member of the Co-op can cover a shift for any other member, so hopefully you’ll be able to get someone else to fill in. If not, make sure to let your shift coordinator know in advance that you’ll be missing your shift. Finally, if you have unusual circumstances making it difficult or impossible for you to meet the work requirement, contact the Membership Relief Council to find out if you can be accommodated.
Q: Is there an option to pay more to avoid the work requirement?
Q: What happens if I don’t work?
A: If you miss your work shift (or fail to do committee work) for one four-week period, you’ll get a warning and need to make up that shift before the next scheduled shift. If you miss a second shift, you and the rest of your household will be unable to shop until both shifts are made up. If you miss a third shift, you will be suspended and your membership will be reviewed for possible termination.
Q: Are there childcare services provided while I work my shift at Greene Hill Food Co-op?
A: We are unable to offer childcare services right now. But we realize this would be a valuable service, and the Co-op will continue to assess options for providing childcare as we grow.
Park Slope Food Coop Members
PSFC members can work at Greene Hill and transfer their work credit to PSFC. Here’s what you need to know.
Q: If I am a PSFC member, how do I earn work credit at Greene Hill?
- First you must join Greene Hill Food Co-op! Go to Join Us for more information or simply come to the store at 18 Putnam Ave. during store hours.
- After you have submitted your Greene Hill membership application, you will receive an activation email requesting that you set up an account on shiftplanning.com, our work shift management software. Be sure to enter your PSFC member number in the appropriate field when setting up your shiftplanning.com account. Your membership number can be found on your member card, or by calling the PSFC membership office. Please alert the Membership Committee (firstname.lastname@example.org) of your request to have your Greene Hill credit transferred.
Q: What if I am a PSFC member, but not a Greene HIll member? Can I still satisfy my PSFC work requirement at Greene Hill?
- Yes, although we’d love it if you joined our coop too!
- Many PSFC members fulfill their work requirement by working offsite (soup kitchen, community garden, etc.). You must be a PSFC member in good standing (owe no make-ups) and should contact the PSFC membership office to be assigned to FTOP.
- Once you’ve been assigned to FTOP, send an email to the Membership Committee (email@example.com) letting them know you’d like to fill your work credits at Greene Hill. Include your full name, email address, phone number, and PSFC member number.
- You will then receive an activation email from Shift Planning and can set up your account and sign up for work shifts at Greene Hill.
Q: How is Greene Hill work tracked and communicated to the PSFC?
- If you haven’t already, you must set up a Shift Planning account. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will walk you through the process. When you report to work your regular shift, you will clock in and out; your hours will be automatically recorded in Shift Planning. Shift attendance is tracked in shiftplanning.com and submitted to PSFC on or around the 5th of the following month.
- You must remember to work an extra 45 minutes for any shift you complete at Greene Hill because the required work shift at PSFC is 2 hours 45 minutes, whereas our shifts are only 2 hours. We can accommodate PSFC members seeking credit by allowing you to work an extra 45 minutes at the start or end of your scheduled shift. You are responsible for making sure your time submitted to PSFC equals one full shift there. Note that PSFC may decline your work submission if it does not equal at least 2.75 hours. If that happens, your time worked at Greene Hill will be added to any work you do the following month and your hours will be resubmitted to PSFC.
- Committee meeting attendance and work is also tracked in shiftplanning.com (be sure to clock in and out whenever you work).
- IMPORTANT:As previously stated, the Membership Committee submits work credit to PSFC on or around the 5th of the following month, so there will likely be slight delays in Greene Hill work credit being reflected in your PSFC work records. Members of both coops should not rely on work at Greene Hill alone to maintain their active status at PSFC. For members wishing to remain active at PSFC, it is advisable to continue working your regular shift while “banking” time for the future via your Greene Hill work.
Q: What does PSFC do with my Greene Hill work credit?
- FTOP workers: If you are currently on FTOP, PSFC will apply each 2.75 hours* worked toward your work requirement at PSFC.
- Non-FTOP workers: once received by PSFC, work credit earned at Greene Hill will be saved in your FTOP account, and subsequently applied whenever a make-up is owed. You will still need to continue working your regular PSFC shift, but will have credit “in the bank” for future need.
Q: For how long will PSFC be accepting work credit from Greene Hill members?
A: We expect the current arrangement will remain in place at least through the end of 2012. This is subject to change at any time as there are quarterly reviews to evaluate our needs.
Q: Is there someone at PSFC that I can talk to if I have further questions?
A: We request that all questions be addressed to the Membership Committee (email@example.com) who can help address any remaining issues.