With more than a dozen cooperatives in Ithaca, the community has become a hub for member-owned and democratically operated enterprises. From consumer co-ops like Buffalo Street Books and GreenStar Market to housing at Cornell University, individuals can invest in local groups that reflect their values. Ithaca College does not directly support the co-op model.
Co-ops are an alternative economic model that share a common purpose of serving its members and the community. They fit with the college’s vision of fostering intellect, creativity and character in a student-centered learning community. The college could further enrich the learning environment by incorporating the co-op model on campus.
Sodexo currently runs all campus dining facilities on campus. While students can purchase organic products at cafe stops around campus or visit the station in Towers Dining Hall to eat local produce, they do not have options for buying and making explicitly local, healthy foods.
Through a co-op cafe, student members could apply small business management skills along with environmental sustainability, not wasting resources on transporting processed products that are sourced across the country to nourish the bodies and minds of the campus community. The student co-op cafe could fulfill the college’s mission of extending learning beyond the classroom while keeping money in our local economy.
Additionally, the college’s nonprofit status mirrors the values of co-ops, which are to work toward goals that benefit the collective. By adopting the co-op model, the college could strengthen relationships with local businesses and instill in its students the principles of global community.