This weekend, the NY Times has a long confessional-style feature from a Park Slope Food Coop member who was suspended after she fell behind on her hours. Yes, Alana Joblin Ain wasn't able to keep up with the 2.75 hours required every four weeks to keep her as a Food Coop member in good standing, "Flushed, defeated and taken aback — I knew I owed the co-op some work, but I didn’t know I had been blacklisted — I slunk around the corner for a takeout burrito. But no amount of mushrooms and spinach could diminish my shame and guilt."
She also notes the lower prices that the Food Co-op offers—"The organic spinach that costs $2.97 at the co-op fetches $3.99 at the Whole Foods in Union Square; 17 ounces of Bionaturae Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil costs co-op members $7.80 and Whole Foods shoppers $13.99"—the "debt" that piles up when one misses a shift—"The standard penalty...is two makeup shifts, and those two shifts must be served before your next regular shift, four weeks down the line."
But she wonders if the growing membership is making things worse, from poor customer service, to making another (disgraced) member feel like there's nothing to contribute, "Windexing a spotless fridge or scrubbing a gleaming bathroom felt useless. I’d eat off the floor of the co-op bathroom."
Naturally, the Times commenters are speaking out: #2 is "Deal with it...go on Glen Bleck and renounce your socialist tendencies...chow a Big Mac and throw the wrapper on their door step...or most likely, do the work, serve the collective and get a few bucks off on olive oil. Ain't no free lunch girl." and another begs, "People would be nicer and more mellow at the PSFC if they weren't being pushed and shoved while crammed together in the too-small aisles or waiting eons to pay in the endlessly long lines. We need more space. Or fewer members. Or both. Please, all you haters, quit the coop! And please, coop head honchos, consider adding a few more registers while we all argue for the next few years about expanding into a bigger building."