Guest blog by Neha Visavadia, City, University of London.
As a student it’s not always easy finding food that is both sustainable and affordable. City Food Co-op was set up to challenge this.
The relationship between sustainability and health is an important one. As people live longer with long-term health conditions our daily lifestyles particularly our eating behaviours, and consequently the food production process, become an integral part of the solution to help us lead healthy and happy lives.
Being busy health-conscious students we had little time to keep going to different shops to find the types of staple foods that we love to cook with. What we really wanted was the convenience of a place on campus that offered a variety of tasty, sustainable food on a student budget. That’s when City Food Co-op was born.
The project was originally co-founded by four students from City, University of London: Martha Segalin and Francesca Monticone (MSc Food Policy students), Marta Carrasco-Mateu (BSc Business Studies) and Neha Visavadia (MSc Health Psychology). The responsibilities were shared amongst us. Both Marta and Martha helped market our work, while Francesca operates the food buying group and Neha drives the project forward.
We met each other at Sustainable Leaders meeting and were supported by the Community Volunteer Officer with help from the SOAS Food Co-op to get started. More recently we’ve alo connected with the IFSTAL team at City, University of London. It is vital to have staff who are able to offer their advice and expertise to help start and then grow the project.
Working at the Co-op has been challenging for all of us, especially whilst juggling full-time studies, but it’s been a positive learning experience. We are better able to manage our time and we don’t leave anything to chance when organising events – both seem deceptively easy but they’re not!
Working in a group has also strengthened our communication skills both with each other and with our customers. It has helped challenge some of our own beliefs about the food system and has opened us up to new possibilities of tackling food issues on campus.
We have a lot of fun while working for something that really matters to us. All our hard work paid off when we won the City Spark People’s Choice Award (2016) and the City Students’ Union Sustainability Project of the year (2017).
Our advice for someone who wants to start a similar project? Find a good ally among the university staff and don’t be put off by bureaucracy. Spend time identifying the mission of your project, it’ll keep you motivated when you come across challenges.
Find us on Facebook (@cityfoodcoop) and continue following our journey.
We are currently looking for pro-active and dedicated student to continue leading the project. If you study at City, UoL and are interested in getting involved then email us on Cityfoodcoop2016@gmail.com
Blog written by Neha Visavadia for City Food Co-op.
Image credits: Neha Visavadia.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of IFSTAL, City, University of London or other affiliated bodies.