The Co-op Cred program is an alternative currency program that facilitates access to the health benefits of local, sustainable and nutritious food as well as supportive work experience opportunities for low-income and marginalized groups facing food insecurity and economic marginalization. The program enables participants to earn “credits” in exchange for their hours of labour and to use them to purchase healthy food available at the WEFC. In short, the program enables trade of labour for goods without converting that labour into wages.

Developed by the West End Food Co-op in collaboration with PARC, the co-op cred program is designed to address systemic challenges that prevent many of Parkdale’s low-income and marginalized people from fully participating in the local economy.

In 2013, we piloted the co-op cred program with the PARC Ambassadors program. The pilot project has proved the co-op cred program generates multiple benefits that improve people’s economic livelihoods, demonstrating a potential to apply the co-op cred program at a neighbourhood-wide scale.

In 2014, we are exploring the viability of the co-op cred program as a place-based local economic development tool by expanding the scope of participants and partners within the neighbourhood. This year expansion includes participants from general PARC members, Edmond Place supportive housing tenants, and Parkdale Community Health Centre’s program participants.

Both Metcalf Foundation and Echo Foundation also have made multiple year of financial support for the co-op cred program development and implementation. Ride4RealFood is a dedicated fundraising event for the Co-op Cred program.

To review archives related to the Co-op Cred program, please go here.