Shared food nourishes our communities.
Many of the communities that are part of BoCHA prepare and share house meals most days of the week. Cooking for each other is a daily act of generosity and reciprocity. Eating together allows us to connect regularly, and be aware of what’s happening in each others lives.
Sharing food and cooking duties saves us both time and money.
Our households tend to share a large proportion of their overall food expenses. We buy food together in bulk at wholesale prices to keep costs down. It’s common for our members to cook only about once a week, but to have dinner almost every night. Our average total food budget is about $5 per person per day. Having home cooked meals, leftovers, and staples easily available also makes eating out less common — which also saves our members money.
We express community values in our purchasing.
While we strive to keep our costs low, that’s not the only thing we care about. We buy mostly organic, and have a preference for food that comes from local suppliers and wholesalers, or from cooperative producers. As a community, we tend to eat animal products in moderation. Some members occasionally pool resources in order to purchase locally produced pastured meats in bulk at a deep discount to grocery store prices.
How does it work?
All of our labor is volunteer, and we have no storefront, so our overhead is currently very close to zero. We place orders with different suppliers on different schedules, to minimize delivery surcharges and the amount of labor required to coordinate ordering, payment, and distribution. Orders are placed online via a shared Google spreadsheet, and the estimated total is pre-paid electronically.
We place orders with Golden Organics and Costco bi-weekly. Orders are due every other Sunday night, and are submitted to the suppliers Monday morning. They are delivered to the Masala Co-op in central Boulder on Tuesday afternoon, and must be picked up by Wednesday evening. This allows us to make orders large enough that we don’t need to pay delivery surcharges, and keeps the labor overhead associated with ordering manageable.
Orders from other suppliers are done on an as-needed basis, taking into consideration minimum order requirements and the desires of the community. Purchases from some suppliers are coordinated by BoCHA members other than the Bulk Food Coordinator. For instance, the Chrysalis Co-op deals with Wisdom Farms (eggs) and Conscious Coffee, and the Ostara Co-op does our bi-weekly Costco run.
Individual communities are free to share bags or cases amongst themselves, but the BoCHA Bulk Coordinator is not responsible for coordinating that sharing. Each item must be purchased by a single household to keep the accounting simple and financial responsibilities clear.
The BoCHA Food Committee
Each community must designate at least one, and preferably two individuals who are responsible for placing bulk orders, making payments, and picking up their orders in a timely manner. These house bulk buyers need to monitor the BoCHA Food email list, and provide their contact information to the BoCHA Bulk Coordinator. The BoCHA Food Committee is made up of all these household bulk buyers, and meets on a quarterly basis to discuss the ordering and payment systems, pricing, adding and removing suppliers, or finding sources for bulk goods we do not currently have access to.
- Golden Organics: Bulk grains, beans, flours, nuts, oils, dried fruit and other bulk dry goods (bi-weekly).
- The Frontier Natural Foods Co-op: herbs, spices, teas (in 1lb bags), personal care items (every 6-8 weeks).
- Wisdom Farms: Local eggs, in cases of 15 dozen (weekly).
- Colorado Honey Company Locally produced honey, by the gallon (as needed).
- Conscious Coffee: Locally roasted coffee, in 5lb bags (every 2-3 weeks).
- Equal Exchange: Nuts, coffees, cocoa, chocolate, and dried fruits from worker owned cooperatives (as needed).
- Costco Wholesale: Miscellaneous packaged foods unavailable from our other suppliers, like canned tomatoes, dry pasta, butter, etc. (bi-weekly).
Interested in our bulk buying system?
Contact the BoCHA Bulk Coordinator:
(505) 257 5115