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Spotlight on Green Action Food Co-op


What is the Green Action Food Co-op?

The Green Action Food Co-op, open from 12pm-5pm on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and located on the Northern door of the subterranean level of the Leeds University Union building, is a cooperative low-waste shop for dry vegan food and ingredients.

Everything is sold at cost from the wholesaler Lembas, located in Sheffield; the co-op offers a wide range of ingredients to cook with, cheaply and sustainably.

In addition, it offers cleaning liquids, toilet paper, hygiene products, Solidaritees; shirts supporting a refugee charity; and hand-made cards, with their proceeds going to the food-share charity Rainbow Junktion. Our staff at the co-op are volunteers from the Green Action Society: anyone can volunteer and be there for as long or as little as they like.

Mission Statement

Our mission is to provide people living in Leeds with a cheap and sustainable way to source healthy food. Purchasing from a wholesaler means that our food is often cheaper than what you might find at a supermarket, and you can purchase how much or however little as you need. People often bring their own containers to fill, but it isn’t necessary, as we have free jars and bags that you can use.

We also have a small zine, book and CD library with material ranging in subject from gardening and co-ops to fashion and jazz. Leaflets, posters and flyers for various organisations and events that are happening in and around Leeds are found on our table and on the multiple boards we have on the outside of the co-op. If something is happening in Leeds, we usually have a flyer for it!

The food co-op - as well as the rest of the Green Action Society - operates as a cooperative, meaning that each member has an equal say in the running of the co-op and society. The University requires that a society has certain committee members, and while the Green Action Society does have these members, everyone in the society acts as the committee. Each member can action their own ideas with enough support from the other members of the group. Through consensus decision making, the group achieves an agreeable outcome for all members.

How the Co-op Works

Our stock is purchased from the wholesaler Lembas, usually in 1 to 20kg bags depending on the stock. These bags are delivered on Thursdays after we make an order the week before, we usually make an order once every three to four weeks during term time, the stock orders refill what we’re running low or out of stock on and buy new stock that people have asked about or requested.

We sell our stock by weight using electronic scales, each item has a price per kilogram that is calculated by the scale. We accept cash and card payments with our till and a card machine provided by the LUU cash office. Card transactions are tracked by the card machine itself and the end-of-day receipts we get from it, but cash transactions are not. When the till gets too full or we have many end-of-day receipts, we take them to the cash office to be added to our society’s bank account.

The food co-op runs as a not-for-profit, meaning that we usually run at a loss due to some stock not being sold and going out of date and spillage. As well as this, particularly after a big order, the money that we will eventually make back from selling the stock takes a long time to recuperate due to the long time it takes to sell.

These challenges are overcome by buying strategically and by utilising other ways of getting finance from the LUU. The Green Action Society bank account, which funds the operations of the Food Co-op, also funds the other operations of the Green Action Society, which includes material for the allotment, workshops, socials, and other events. Care is taken to ensure the society always has enough money to fund the Food Co-op first and foremost, before spending any money on any other endeavour.


To read more sustainability case studies, visit our Sustainability Section.