Back To Basics

The idea of the basics program is not new to the Co-op community.  I was lucky enough to attend the National Consumers Cooperative Management Association Conference (CCMA) in Austin, Texas.  During one of the sessions I attended, we discussed how to engage neighboring communities and those in more varied socioeconomic demographics in our local co-ops. One of the solutions mentioned was to debunk the myth that Co-ops are high end, specialty markets.


An ingrained principle of food co-ops is providing access to healthy food.  However, sometimes the idea of food access gets lost, simply by the concept of Co-ops focusing on local, organic, sustainable items, which tend to be higher priced items.


Inspired by other co-ops at CCMA, I developed the “Back To Basics” program to keep prices low on staple food items, allowing basic food needs to be met by anyone in the community.  To start, I took a look at food staples in our store (eggs, flour, pasta, rice etc.) and found that we could lower the prices on select items. I developed the program further by working with department managers and our vendors to keep costs at a minimum. The main goal of this program is to make our food accessible but more importantly affordable for everyone inside and outside of the Swarthmore community.  Currently, we have a little over twenty products in the Back to Basics program, including meats, produce, dairy, toiletries and baking needs.  We look forward to continuing to extend this philosophy and practice to other products throughout the store which will provide us a way to serve you better foods, better choices and better service, all for less cost.  Now this is what I call food access in its most basic form.


Make to sure to look for the Back To Basics logo on these food items:


Regular Grade A


Basic Price–$1.39

Bulk Flour


Basic Price–$.69/lb




Basic Price–$3.15


Whole Wheat and White


Basic Price–$1.69


Canned Black Beans


Basic Price–$.99

Coffee (created for B2B)

One Village Block Party

Basic Price–$9.99


Eco Short Grain Brown Rice


Basic Price–$1.49

Peanut Butter

Crunchy and Creamy


Basic Price–$3.49

Frozen Vegetables


Basic Price–$1.69

Toilet Paper & Paper Towels

(created for B2B) 





Basic Price–$2.99

Produce (created for B2B)

Bagged Yellow Onions 3lb @ 1.99

Bagged Mixed Potatoes 5lb @ 2.99

Applegate American Cheese


Basic Price–6.99/lb

Applegate Cheddar Cheese


Basic Price–$7.99/lb

Applegate Oven Roasted Turkey


Basic Price–$9.99/lb

Applegate Black Forest Ham


Basic Price–$9.99/lb

Rotisserie Chicken


Basic Price–$8.99

Carolina Cat fish

(created for B2B)

Basic Price–6.99/lb

Frozen Chicken Family Pack

Boneless& Skinless

(created for B2B)

Basic Price–3/lb at 5.49/lb


This post was written by Kira Montagno, assistant operations manager


One comment

  1. Pingback: The Best of 2013 | Swarthmore Co-op Blog

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