More than Bread and Milk: The Co-op

Written by: Caroline H. Fuchs

Eggs, bread, milk, and for some, beer and wine. These dietary staples and other food items are found at the well-known and often visited Greenbelt Co-op Supermarket & Pharmacy (Co-op) located in Roosevelt Center. Consumers take the ubiquitous Safeway and Giant grocery stores for granted, but the residents of Greenbelt have treasured a local Co-op since the 1940s.

The community is invited to spend May 21 with the Co-op as part of the Greenbelt Community Foundation (GCF) 10th Anniversary campaign titled “Explore Your Greenbelt.” That Saturday, the Co-op is hosting a storewide food and wine tasting event from 11 am to 3 pm.

For ten years, the Greenbelt Community Foundation has awarded grants to local community organizations and cooperatives that bring residents together. “Explore Your Greenbelt” is a seven month celebratory campaign that encourages families, individuals, and young professionals to get to know the foundation and the organizations it supports by participating in specific monthly events and activities.

A centerpiece of Greenbelt, the Co-op was the recipient of a GCF grant that established its popular “Community Corner.” An empty corner at the front of the store was transformed into a communication hub with bulletin boards housing event information, nutrition tips, recipes, and general postings from residents. At the “Community Corner” can you find out about the upcoming events in Roosevelt Center, a simple recipe for apple pie, and a post looking for volunteers to staff a local event. With the support of GCF, the Co-op became an even more valuable pillar of the Greenbelt community.

There are 10,000 members of the Co-op; each member owns a share of the cooperative and receives a percentage of the annual profits which they can use to purchase food or obtain cash. But you don’t have to be a member to shop at the Co-op and take advantage of the goods and good it brings to the community.

By listening to its members and customers, the Co-op models positive civic behavior. For example, some members objected to the store’s stock of strawberries from a brand identified with bad labor practices. Sensitive to these concerns, the Co-op replaced the problematic brand with strawberries from a different provider. Long-time employees are part of what makes this customized service possible. Only at the Co-op are there employees who greet customers year after year, listen to their concerns, and place specific food orders upon request.

The Co-op delivers more than the basics to Greenbelt residents. It provides opportunities for customers to donate to a food bank and contribute food and blankets to local animal shelters. Healthy eating is promoted through the Co-op website and in the store at regular tasting events. Store tours teach children about nutritional labels and a fruit of the month program helps expand young taste buds. And rush hour at the Co-op is the last Wednesday of every month when members receive a 5% discount on purchases.

Get to know your local supermarket—the Greenbelt Co-op Supermarket & Pharmacy (Co-op)—at its food and wine tasting event on May 21 from 11 am to 3 pm, part of the “Explore Your Greenbelt” campaign of the Greenbelt Community Foundation (GCF). At the event’s multiple food stations, you’ll learn more about the Co-op and the GCF’s mission to “nourish all of Greenbelt’s neighborhoods.”