The South County Food Co-op staff and its members work together toward a common objective. Our purpose is to provide high quality natural foods at affordable prices to members and to the general public. We are a member-owned and member-controlled organization seeking to offer our community an alternative to mass-produced foods of limited nutritional value. The Co-op’s philosophy is “Food for People-Not for Profit.”
We carry a full line of natural and organic products as well as a wide array of health, beauty and household items. Be sure to check out our products page for more info. And if you’re looking for a snack, we offer daily prepared foods.
The Co-op began as a grass root organization in 1970 with about a dozen families in the Kingston area participating. Its primary purpose was to provide high quality natural food to its members at affordable prices. In 1970, there were no natural food stores in Rhode Island and Co-op members took turns driving to the now defunct Erewhon Natural Food Distributors in Boston for their food. They loaded their cars or trucks with grains, beans, nuts and other foods that the members may have requested. The food was distributed on a weekly basis, usually at the home of the member doing the purchasing that week.
After a year, the Co-op expanded to the community, moving its working operation to the basement of St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church on Lower College Road in Kingston. A scale, paper and pencil and adding machine were the Co-op’s only store equipment. At this time the Co-op was operated for members only and all work was volunteer. As URI faculty and student participation increased, the Co-op was able to acquire space in the basement of Roosevelt Hall at the University of Rhode Island. We fixed up our basement quarters there, expanding and growing, offering a wider selection of foods and other related items. We remained in Roosevelt Hall for over 20 years.
Our move (on Labor Day!) in 1994 to Kingstown Road in West Kingston was the next step in our evolution. We were still the original grass roots organization at our core, but we had grown into a larger natural foods market serving the whole community and offering ever-expanding variety of foods.
We moved to 357 Main Street, Wakefield in January of 2000. With generous donations of labor and supplies, the storefront was rewired, the checkout counter built, the floor installed, storage shelving constructed and the store repainted. Member loans and gifts along with some bank financing made our move here, with all the improvements and equipment needed, possible. The final moving day was an all volunteer effort. The back of the station wagon days were indeed over.
In 2014, the membership voted to change the name to South Count Food Co-op to better reflect the broadening mission of the store. Then in January 2015 we moved across the street to 344 Main Street. The new location offers more retail, storage and office space.
Board of Directors
The Board of Directors acts on behalf of the membership to oversee the operations of the Co-op. Members elect directors for two-year terms on an alternating basis. Voting begins at the Annual Membership Meeting in January and continues for ten days. Officers of the Board are elected by the Directors at the first regular Board meeting following the Annual Membership Meeting and serve a two-year term.
Allison Phillips, President
Rhonda Levye, Vice President
Vida Wynne Griffin, Secretary
Jeff Foye, Treasurer
Our Strategic Plan is a road map for the future. Read our plan.
Mission and Bylaws
The Co-op is guided by its mission refined over the years by its members.
The purpose and mission of the South County Food Cooperative is:
I. To provide quality products at reasonable cost and to operate at all times in a manner that is fair and equitable to its members, staff and community.
II. To provide a working example of a cooperative, community-based organization operating in accordance with the following cooperative principles:
- Open and voluntary membership, without any social, political, racial, religious, sexual, or other arbitrary discrimination;
- Democratic governance with equal voting rights among members and opportunity for participation in decisions affecting the Co-op;
- Strict limitation of monetary return on member capital;
- Equitable use of net savings to avoid one member gaining at expense of another member;
- Active cooperative with other cooperative organizations;
- Education of the members and the general public in the cooperative principle
III. To specialize in selling organically grown, unprocessed, whole foods and to support sustainable, local agriculture whenever feasible, while also balancing the needs and wishes of our membership.
The Co-op’s bylaws govern its operations and are available for review.
The Co-op’s dedicated staff keep the store running. Download an application to apply to join our team. Please bring the completed application to the store.