Maryland Food Co-Op: A place offering more than just food

By: Katelyn Newman

 

By providing workload equality, a welcoming good atmosphere, and healthy, inexpensive food, the Maryland Food Co-Op offers a fresh spin taste on running a business.

Located on the ground floor of Stamp Student Union, the Co-Op is a worker-owned facility in which each worker and volunteer shares equal responsibilities in running the food store. With no managers or bosses, the self-run business sells natural foods and provides a friendly atmosphere complete with trendy music.

“I was initially attracted to [the Co-Op] because I’m a vegan,” said Mary Schulte, who has worked in the store for the past two and a half years. “I stayed because I really liked the co-operative structure, and this place allowed me to grow in my business skills.”

Schulte, who graduated from UMD two years ago, said the co-op teaches workers and volunteers about how to run a small business with the right attitude. For volunteers not on the payroll, they receive food credit for the hours spent working in the Co-Op. What attracts students to the co-op, though?

“It’s not so much for studying, but because I love the food here, so I come everyday for lunch,” said Rachel Graham, an undeclared sophomore. “It’s just got a different feel to it. I like the atmosphere and the feeling of community.”

Graham said she often studies in the co-op while she eats because of its living-room environment and good music. Couches and chairs are set up inside the Co-Op to provide a place to sit down and enjoy a meal.

Andrew Bresee, a senior environmental science and technology major, said he appreciates the “healthy, delicious, not-very-expensive food [and] a good atmosphere.”

“The food is much cheaper than the kind of food I would get anywhere else,” said Bresee, who stops by the shop about once a week. Bresee said his favorite thing about the Co-Op is the kind of food they serve, healthy options for a college kid on a small budget.

Meaghan Butler said she usually comes to the Co-Op twice a week, primarily for the food. A senior dietetics major, Butler said the diverse food and environment attract her to the store.

“It has nice, healthy options compared to everything else, and they’re cheaper,” said Butler.

For vegans, vegetarians and all foodies, the Co-Op offers a location in the center of campus to eat and meet people who also enjoy healthy lunch options.

Opened every day of the week, the Co-Op is all about the community eating healthy, working together, and taking a moment to relax during the day.

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