What is Membership?

Since the beginning, GreenStar's mission focused on making nutritious, whole food available to its members. But membership means more than just access to good, healthy food...

When you join the Co-op you become a Member-Owner of a locally-owned and cooperatively operated values-based business. We focus on the social and environmental impact GreenStar makes on our local and global community, as well as economic performance. We put our values first, and return all profits back to the Co-op or donate them to the community.

The co-operative business model has proven to be a strong alternative to traditional profit-driven businesses. And, for every dollar you spend in a locally-owned business or cooperative, 45 cents is return to the community, compared to only 13 cents when you spend a dollar at a chain store.

One Member – One Vote means your voice truly counts!

Like all consumer co-ops, GreenStar is owned and democratically run by the people who use the store. Unlike traditional corporations where the amount of a stockholder's investment determines his or her voting power, every member at GreenStar has equal voting rights. As a Member-Owner, you have an equal say in the future direction of GreenStar.

By investing and participating in your co-op, you're putting your values into action.

Through your Equity Share investment and patronage, GreenStar supports the health and well-being of our member-owners, our community and the planet by:

  • Purchasing from local farmers and businesses
  • Paying a livable wage
  • Using clean energy and recycled office supplies
  • Supporting organic agriculture and fair trade producers
  • Offering health insurance to employees
  • Donating to local charities and events
  • Providing education on nutrition, health and sustainability
  • Improving access to healthy food to those on limited budgets through the FLOWER program



Let's Celebrate Member-Owner and Staff Labor!


By Alexis Alexander, 

Membership Manager

2013-icecream-socialCome join us on Monday, Sept. 2 for the 5th annual Labor Day Worker Appreciation Ice Cream Social. Celebrate the dedication and important contributions of our super-workers, member-workers, and staff over a bowl of delicious dairy or vegan ice cream, topped with luscious strawberry sauce, chocolate syrup, or granola. The ice cream social is held in the parking lot of the West-End store and begins at 2 pm, continuing until the ice cream runs out. Come early as we seem to finish up earlier each year!

And speaking of member labor...

In times past, member labor programs were the backbone of the natural food cooperative movement. Co-ops depended on their member-owners to complete most, if not all, tasks in the co-op. Although today many co-ops have moved away from the member labor model, at GreenStar our program is thriving. In 2012, over 430 member-owners volunteered in some capacity. We are lucky to have so many member-owners who want to get involved in the daily operations and governance of GreenStar. And their contributions are noteworthy — from on-the-sales-floor help stocking, fronting and facing, bagging groceries, and cleaning our stores to behind-the-scenes work in administrative departments, on committees, and on Council — the dedication of our volunteers is vital to our success as a co-op.

But it's not just inside the Co-op where our member-owners make important contributions. Over the past few years, we have increased the number of opportunities for member labor participants to represent GreenStar via volunteer shifts out in the community, at festivals, and with Ithaca Community Harvest. For instance, in June, seven member-owners volunteered at the GIAC Festival in various capacities, and a few more helped the clean-up crew at the Juneteenth Celebration at Southside Community Center.

Then there are GreenStar-sponsored events such as our annual Spring and Fall Member-Owner Meetings, and the annual Food Justice Summit sponsored by our nonprofit affiliate, GreenStar Community Projects. On Saturday, July 13, several member-owners helped us put on an important benefit for Cayuga Pure Organics (CPO), whose beanery was destroyed by fire in May. Their tasks were many and varied — shucking corn, cutting melons, pitching tents, directing traffic, selling tickets, serving food, managing the sound system, and cleaning up afterwards. And I'm sure I'm forgetting a few! One thing is certain, though, we couldn't have put on such a successful event and raised over $3,900 for CPO without our member-owners' hands-on involvement.

Currently, opportunities to get involved abound! If you're interested in picking up a weekly super-worker shift, serving on a Council committee, being on our call list for an occasional shift bagging groceries during the 10% on the 10th sales days, or helping out at a member-owner event, check out the Member Labor Posting board at the Member Centers at either store. The process is simple. Just fill out the request form provided for the position you are interested in, and the Membership Department will contact you. And please note that shifts are being added all the time as seasons change and various needs arise. For instance, just a few months ago, all our Council committee seats were filled. With summer upon us, we have a number of new vacancies. So if you're really interested in volunteering, but don't see anything that works for you, I encourage you to keep checking the board periodically, because some opportunity is bound to arise for you.

It is with tremendous gratitude that we thank each and every member-owner who participates in the member labor program. Your commitment, hard work, and loyalty helps make GreenStar an awesome beacon of cooperation and warm-hearted spirit in our community.