Chances are, if you've ever walked near the entrance of campus, then you've probably seen the Berkeley Student Food Collective on Bancroft Way. With an eye-catching logo and vibrant décor, most people usually do a double take when they walk by. But, what exactly is the Berkeley Student Food Collective?

The Berkeley Student Food Collective (BSFC) is a non-profit, student-run grocery store that is dedicated to being "more than a grocery store." Aside from providing fresh and sustainable produce, BSFC also holds events to educate the community about nutrition and provide support to other organizations in need. After a period of closure during the pandemic, the collective reopened in August of 2021, and the team is very excited to continue serving the Berkeley community!

How It All Began

Emily Chiang

The organization first started in 2009 as a way to fight against UC Berkeley's plans to bring fast food chains, such as Panda Express, to campus. After a massive and successful protest, the Berkeley Student Food Collective was able to make a name for itself. Eventually, the collective opened an official storefront in November 2010.

It's been more than a decade since the BSFC was created, and the collective is still organized and run by students. More than 150+ members are currently involved with the collective, and each of them votes on policies and helps dictate the future direction of the store. The collective serves as a community space for the students, where their voices can be heard. As the BSFC grew larger and larger, many additional programs were created in order to adapt to the needs of the community.

Sliding Scale Program

Emily Chiang

In most grocery stores, there is a huge problem with food waste, as stores often dispose of perfectly edible products that are expired or damaged. In an effort to combat food waste, BSFC devised the Sliding Scale Program. This is how it works: members of the collective take food that might not sell by the expiration date, and they make creative dishes from them. Some meals that were made in the past include Cuban breakfast sandwiches, veggie pasta, and overnight oats. People can then pay anywhere from $1-$5 for the dish. Not only does this program reduce food waste, it also fights food insecurity and makes food more accessible to those in need.

Pay It Forward

Emily Chiang

The Pay it Forward Program is another way that the BSFC makes food more accessible to the community. Customers can purchase vouchers worth $1, $3, or $5 that are then pinned on the "Pay It Forward" board. Anyone can then use these vouchers to purchase food and other groceries from the store.

Aside from these programs, the BSFC also accepts EBT cards. In fact, 30% of the collective's sales are with EBT. It is also one of the only grocery stores in the area that participates in the "Double-up Food Bucks" program. If you use your EBT card and buy any California produce from the collective, you'll get a voucher of the same amount spent to use on your next visit to the BSFC.

Get Involved

Emily Chiang

If you are interested in getting involved with the BSFC and becoming a member, you can fill out an online application. There is no competition to join. The Berkeley Student Food Collective is an inclusive space and would love to have you be a part of the team. Members commit to two-hour weekly shifts and  attend committee meetings. After becoming a member, you will have the opportunity to vote on future decisions regarding the BSFC. Members also receive a 10% discount on all their purchases!

What are you waiting for? Make sure to check out the Berkeley Student Food Collective the next time you walk by.