FAQs

Greene Hill shoppers


General

Q: What is the Greene Hill Food Co-op?

A: We are a group of neighbors in Fort Greene/Clinton Hill/Bedford-Stuyvesant and surrounding areas who work together to run a 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 member-owners. Because cooperatives pool their resources and contribute most of the work, overhead stays low, prices are lower, and the quality of the products 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 well as wild and sustainably farmed fish, natural pet foods, environmentally safe cleaning supplies and more. We listen to our member-owners and buy what is requested from them.

Q: Where is Greene Hill Food Co-op located?

A: 18 Putnam Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11238 (between Grand Avenue and Downing Street), near the border of Clinton Hill and Bed-Stuy.

Q: What are the Greene Hill Food Co-op store hours?

A: The Co-op is open for shopping on:

Mon, Wed, Fri: 3 pm – 9 pm

Sat & Sun: 10 am – 6 pm

Q: How do I contact Greene Hill Food Co-op?

A: Some ways to reach the Co-op:


Membership

Q: Why should I become a member-owner 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-owner of the Co-op to shop there?

A: Yes, Co-op member-owners voted to be a 100% working Co-op; that is, only member-owners 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-owner: 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-owner of the Co-op?

A: No. Because we are incorporated as a membership cooperative, only individual humans can be member-owners, 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-owner 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 stop by 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: We offer a 2 month trial membership to everyone.  This trial membership allows you to shop in the store without any work commitment or financial investment.  Once the trail period is up you are invited to begin investment and sign up for a shift and continue to enjoy the benefits of being a member-owner.  This policy is subject to change.

Q: Will there be member-owner orientations?

A: Yes, each member-owner will be required to attend an orientation session, which is held monthly.  See the calendar for the next orientation session.


Participation

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 calendar for date, time and location. You can read the meeting notes here.

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 member-owners. Please click here for complete details on how get involved.

Q: What committees need members and assistance?

A: All committees need your assistance. Check out our Committee List or find a specific job in our Job Classifieds.

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 Coop now.  Can I help Greene Hill Food Co-op?

A: Yes!  All Park Slope Food Coop members are welcome to fulfill their work requirement at Greene Hill Food Co-op, and we’ll transfer your hours over monthly.  Email Membership with your name, contact info and PSFC ID number.  They will work with you to select an appropriate work shift, or get you onto a committee.

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 here.


Co-op Structure

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.  If you are interested in loaning or donating money to the Co-op or have a fundraising idea, please email our Finance Committee 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 welcome support from local businesses, such as donations of gift certificates or other small incentives we can provide to members, posting of Greene Hill Food Co-op signs in shop windows, and more.

Here is a list of your favorite local businesses offering members discounts.

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 the Finance Committee 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 Operations Committee to discuss options.


Financial

Q: How much does it cost to join?

A: There is a $150.00 Membership Investment and a $25.00 nonrefundable administrative fee; the Membership Investment is subject to certain conditions. For those on assisted living, a reduction is available – see below.

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 Membership Investment to $25. 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 nonrefundable Administrative Fee helps to cover costs to operate the Co-op, including bank fees, website hosting, etc. The 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.

Q: What do I do if I want to leave the Co-op?

A: If you should ever decide to cancel your membership to the Co-op, simply email Membership with your contact info and reason for leaving.  If you wish for your investment to be redeemed you will be referred to the Investments team.  Please remember that when a member-owner requests a redemption of their investment, it may not be immediate.  The redemption timing is determined by the Board of Directors, according to the Co-op’s fiscal health and other factors (and as such, a member-owner remains a member-owner until his or her redemption is processed). Often member-owners that leave the Co-op choose to donate their investment to the Co-op.  More information is available under the Leave & Cancelation Policies


Work Shifts

Q: Why is there a work requirement to be a member-owner?

A: Greene Hill Food Co-op has voted to be a 100% working co-op. That means that every member-owner is responsible for contributing work to the store. Using member-owner 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 2.5 hours every 4 weeks (13 times a year).  If you work more than that, you can “bank” hours to count toward your requirements in the future.

Q: Do I need to sign up for work shifts as soon as I join?

A: Yes.  Refer to Work Shift Process for more information.  All new member-owners have a grace period of 30 days to shop before working their first shift.

Q:  What kind of work do I have to do?

A: You have a lot of choices.  We have many Work Shifts that need to be done at specified times at the store, from receiving and stocking of groceries, to cashiering, and greeting member-owners at the door.  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:  How can I change my shift?

A: To permanently change your shift, Email Membership.  To arrange a one time swap, please refer to our Work Shift Policies

Q: Can I cover my partner’s shift for them?

A: Yes, members may cover one another’s work shifts.  You just need to sign in under his/her name.

Q: Is there an option to pay more to avoid the work requirement?

A: No.

Q: What if I can’t commit to a regular schedule due to my irregular work schedule, I travel a lot or other reasons?  How can I fulfill my work requirement?

A: If you are a member-owner who has an unpredictable schedule or for whatever reason find it difficult to commit to the same position, day, time, and week, you may opt to join the Floater List. Member-owners in the floater group get a weekly email from our store coordinator listing gaps in coverage for the week. As long as you pick up one 2.5-hour shift per 4-week cycle (or check the Work Shift Trading Network and cover a shift for another member-owner if you can’t make any of the available times that the store coordinator lists) then you’ll stay current with your hours and won’t need to schedule any shifts through ShiftPlanning.

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 will become “inactive” and unable to shop until you make the shifts up.  Refer to Work Shift Policies  for further information.

Q: How do I become “active” again?

A: You only have to make up 2 shifts within one 4 week cycyle to become active in the system again, even if you have exceeded 2 missed shifts.  Email Membership to inform them you’d like be active again.  Once you receive a confirmation email, you must schedule both of your make up shifts (within the same 4 week cycle).  Only after you have worked the first shift will you be allowed to shop again.  You will still need to make up the 2nd shift within that cycle.

Note: You may also make up a shift by attending a General Meeting, held monthly.

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. 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 Food Co-op and we will transfer their work credit to PSFC. Here’s what you need to know:

Q: How long must I be a PSFC member to qualify for this program?

A: You must be a PSFC member in good standing (current on work and investment).

Q: What if I am a PSFC member, but not a Greene Hill Food Co-op member? Can I still satisfy my PSFC work requirement at Greene Hill Food Co-op?

A: Yes, although we’d love it if you joined our co-op too!

Many PSFC members fulfill their work requirement by working off site (soup kitchens, community gardens, etc.).

Once you’ve been assigned to FTOP, send an email to Membership and let them know you’d like to fill your work credits at Greene Hill Food Co-op. Include your full name, email address, phone number, and PSFC member number.

Q: How is work tracked and communicated to the PSFC?

A: If you choose to work in the store you will sign in to the crib sheet at the Check-In Desk.  A Membership Committee person will input your time into ShiftPlanning for you.

If you work on a committee you will have to log into ShiftPlanning and “Add Clock Time” for your work.  Make sure to include notes on what work you accomplished when entering time.  Work shift entries without notes will not be approved.

Work credit is submitted to PSFC at the beginning of our A Week and can take up to 5 days to process.

You must remember to work an extra 15 minutes for any shift you complete at Greene Hill Food Co-op.  The required work shift at PSFC is 2 hours and 45 minutes, whereas our shifts are only 2.5 hours. We can accommodate PSFC members seeking credit by allowing you to work an extra 15 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.

Before the report goes to Park Slope Food Coop you will receive an email alerting you to how many shifts are being reported to Park Slope, or you will receive an alert letting you know you have no hours to report.

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 Food Co-op will be added banked and stored for future reporting.

Committee meeting attendance and work is also tracked in ShiftPlanning (be sure to add clock time for whenever you work).

Q: What does PSFC do with my Greene Hill Food Co-op work credit?

A:  PSFC will apply each 2.75 hours worked toward your work requirement at PSFC.

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 Membership who will help address any remaining issues.

You may also review Park Slope Food Coop’s Workslot Credit Info Here


Q: Banking Hours

A: Membership keeps track of all hours worked by each member. If you ever want a report of hours worked please email [email protected] Requests can take up to 2 weeks to process.

Many members are willing to contribute more than 2.5 hours every 4 weeks, for those we offer the Banked Hours Program. All active members with hours exceeding 2.5 will automatically be recorded and maintained for future use. These hours do not expire as long as you stay active in the system. If you ever wish to redeem these banked hours simply complete the form here.

  • You must apply two weeks in advance of the anticipated missed shift to request banked hours.
  • You may not apply banked hours to a shift date that has passed or to any shift that was missed without notification.
  • You must still communicate with your Shift Leader or Store Coordinator if you anticipate missing a shift.