How does it work?
The Co-op Cred Program is rooted in co-operation. This co-operation is between community partners, between organizations and participants, and between members of the greater community and the program in general. The program works only because community organizations have agreed to support each other and work together to create a collaborative initiative, because participants have an active voice in its development and promotion, and because the community continues believes in the program by supporting cred-raising.
Our unique credit-debit system at the West End Food Co-op (WEFC) makes it possible for low-income participants to use credit, or "cred," shop for healthy food without jeopardizing their social assistance. All participants receive a free membership from the food co-op and use a membership card just like all other members, thus not differentiating themselves as they use their card to access food:
Through their placements, participants relearn a wide variety of skills: food literacy, food preparation at the PARC drop-in kitchen, and retail skills in WEFC's grocery store and co-op kitchen, as well as at the Sorauren Farmers' Market; urban gardening and land stewardship in Greenest City's community gardens; peer leadership at the Centre for Mindfulness Studies; customer service at Free Geek; community outreach with the Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust; and workshop facilitation and health literacy as PQWCHC Diabetes Management Program facilitators.
Participants are expected to uphold their commitments to the program and attend all their sessions, however, they are supported by supervisors who help them do so when troubles arise. Furthermore, participants are given the opportunity to join committees and working groups to help develop the Co-op Cred Program in a way that reflects their lived experience.
Co-op Cred participants gain the opportunity to attend workshops to redevelop their skills and leadership abilities within and outside of the program. This includes recovery workshops, kitchen workshops, anti-oppression training, and more.