Although gaining in popularity recently, food cooperatives have actually been in existence for more than 150 years. Typical food co-ops are local volunteer organizations that buy produce in bulk and divide up between the members. The produce changes according to the season.

New Hope United Methodist Church in Brandon sponsors a co-op that meets on the first and third Tuesday every month. The church has been successfully sponsoring this coop since March 2014. Linda Legris Hall, administrative assistant at New Hope, has been involved with the coop since the beginning.

“The food co-op has been a real blessing to me because I have met many wonderful people that have been impacted by this mission,” said Hall. “And I’ve made new friends that will be my friends forever.”

Currently, the co-op averages between 35-40 people. The food packages consist of fresh fruits and vegetables and a dozen eggs, valued at approximately $40. However, for co-op participants the cost is just $5 for each unit of food, with a limit of two units per household.

“We have a wonderful team of volunteers that help with set-up and assisting the members of the co-op through picking up their food,” said Hall. “We wouldn’t be able to do this mission if it weren’t for our volunteers.”

Anyone can participate in New Hope’s food co-op; you do not need to be a member of the church. Also, no income level is required.

In order to participate, co-op members are asked to pre-register by calling the church office at 689-4161 or by going online to the church’s website at www.findnewhope.com and clicking ‘Food Coop’ on the home page.

“Since all the food is freshly bought the day before, this helps us purchase the right amount,” said Hall.

Volunteers are always welcome. Anyone interested in volunteering can also call the church office or email Hall at Linda@findnewhope.com.

The co-op meets on the first and third Tuesday of each month at 10 a.m. in the New Hope Family Life Center, located behind the sanctuary at 213 N. Knights Ave. in Brandon. Visit www.findnewhope.com or follow on Facebook at New Hope United Methodist Church.