Cooperatives are taking shape and growing in all parts of the food system. And yet, their founders are swimming upstream in an environment shaped by hierarchical business models. For this reason, learning how to run a successful co-op requires time, patience, and a team that’s willing to go the distance. It also works best when you have adequate support from those with experience working cooperatively.
Suparna Kudesia, executive director and co-leader of Cooperative Food Empowerment Directive, or CoFED, works with a team of people who offer just that kind of support. She joined the organization in 2018 as the director of education and became the executive director in 2020. We spoke with Kudesia about what’s at stake and what’s ahead for the cooperative movement, as well the work CoFED is doing to build a more just food system.