The Co+op Basics Program

Photo by Leah Brasher

“All across the country, 143 food co-ops that represent over 1.2 million owner-shoppers have committed to jointly purchasing enough volume of Co-op Basics pantry-stocking items to drop our wholesale cost. Our food co-ops all now offer our communities high-quality organic grocery items to you at an everyday low price that isn’t a sale”, as quoted in their flyer bringing awareness to the new National Co+op Basics project.

The Isla Vista Food Co-op and over 100 co-ops around the country are having a “Field Day” with lower prices.

What does this mean for you as a customer?

You can proudly take ownership of a community-owned grocery store that supports small-scale, local, organic farmers and food producers.The IV Co-op’s participation in the national Co+op Basics Program means high quality products are sold for affordable prices that are competitive with Trader Joes, Albertsons, and Whole Foods. Woah.



Let’s take a few steps back and understand what a co-op really is.

What is a Co-op?

The Isla Vista Food Co-op is our cooperatively-owned natural and organic food store. It was originally founded by our community in 1972 and has worked hard to prove its vital role in today’s environmentally, socially, and politically charged food system as a sustainable alternative to the corporate food chain. The produce department is an example of how the co-op provides critical financial support to our local farmers, and in return, our community receives the freshest, organic, in-season produce.

How Our Food Co-op Works for Us

Photo by Leah Barsher

The Isla Vista Food Co-op serves an eclectic community of all ages, backgrounds, levels of financial stability, and of course, a transitory population of college students. Having such a large yet temporary customer base, it is a journey and a challenge for co-op employees to successfully engage students year after year, while maintaining meaningful relationships with the more settled communities of Isla Vista, Goleta, and Santa Barbara.

Not Just A Grocery Store

For the Co-op, engaging students and community members isn’t just about selling grocery items. It is about educating a vibrant community about the importance of taking social, economic, and environmental responsibility. The Co-op exists to be the entity through which our community can practice values of honesty and openness by making informed decisions about the businesses and foods that deserve our support. The products, services, and information provided by the Co-op work to sustain such a cooperative, sustainable, healthy community.

“Cooperative” is Key

As a grocery store that embodies the business model of a cooperative, the IV Food Co-op is intrinsically a hub of community, cooperation, and customer-engagement. The Co-op reacts and responds to their customer’s needs, which has led to their partnerships with Financial Services, CalFresh, the AS Foodbank Pantry, Healthy School Pantry, and of course, the Co+op Basics Program.

In this way, Co-ops differ drastically from other privately owned grocery stores. They are nourished and empowered by their own community partnerships and relationships that are formed due to their transparent businesses practices. The transparency of the Co-op’s business model and their producers ensures customers that the products are honestly labeled, sustainably made, and often local, organic, and non-GMO.

Making Food Personal Again

Unlike other grocery store business models, the Co-op strives for reasonable prices without sacrificing the quality of their food. Through sales, coupons, owner savings, and now the Basics Program, the Co-op offers products that have been carefully selected and made affordable and available to all of their customers.

The “My Store Brand” Project

143 co-ops uniting + a need for reasonably priced quality food choices = a partnership with food retailer Field Day and the creation of “My Store Brand”.

A photo posted by David Campbell (@doctor__rock) on Sep 5, 2015 at 12:20pm PDT

“My Store Brand” is the result of a national co-op partnership with Field Day, a UNFI-distributed brand, that produces pantry essentials and eco-friendly household products that are non-GMO, organic, natural, and healthy. Field Day takes a “less-is-more approach with [their] ingredients and packaging” and sources the majority of their ingredients from our local farmers.


So what now?

When wandering through the aisles, look for little purple tags labeled as “Co+op Basics” and notice the numerous displays around the store carrying informational flyers.

From canned beans, tomato sauce, peanut butter, olive oil, and even organic chocolate cream cookies – you’ll find a large variety Co+op Basics products spread throughout every aisle of the store.

Learn more about the IV Co-op through their website, or better yet, wander around the store and get to know the employees!