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Maryland Food Collective records

 Collection 0087-UA
In August 1975, Matt Mayer, a student at the University of Maryland, College Park, submitted a proposal to the Student Government Association (SGA) for the formation of the Maryland Food Collective, which is today also known as the "Maryland Food Co-operative" or the "Co-op." The Maryland Food Collective Archives cover the years 1972 to 2005, with the bulk of the material dating from the 1980s and 2000s. The collection focuses primarily on preserving the culture of the Co-op and the voices of the workers and volunteers. Document types include correspondence, in the form of postcards and letters; collected artwork; awards won by the Co-op; photographs; newspaper clippings and other writings about the Co-op; and flyers from outside institutions placed in the Co-op to appeal to Co-op customers, workers and volunteers. Also included are examples of product signage and recipes. Business records include phone lists, IOU sheets, ledgers, meeting and work procedures, and price lists.

Dates

  • 1972-2009
  • Majority of material found within 1980-2005

Use and Access to Collection

Materials of a sensitive nature, such as those containing personally identifiable information, are restricted for 75 years or the life of the individual and may by screened and removed by special collections staff. Please speak with a staff member if you believe that materials have been unnecessarily removed.

Duplication and Copyright Information

Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.

Extent

4.00 Linear Feet (4.00 linear feet and 64 photographs)

4.00 Linear Feet

64 Photographs

Scope and Content of Collection

The Maryland Food Collective records cover the years 1972 to 2005, with the bulk of the material dating from the 1980s and 2000s. The collection focuses primarily on preserving the culture of the Co-op and the voices of the workers and volunteers. Document types include correspondence, in the form of postcards and letters; collected artwork; awards won by the Co-op; photographs; newspaper clippings and other writings about the Co-op; and flyers from outside institutions placed in the Co-op to appeal to Co-op customers, workers and volunteers. Also included are examples of product signage and recipes. Business records include phone lists, IOU sheets, ledgers, meeting and work procedures, and price lists.

Administrative History

In August 1975, Matt Mayer, a student at the University of Maryland, College Park, submitted a proposal to the Student Government Association (SGA) for the formation of the Maryland Food Collective, which is today also known as the "Maryland Food Co-operative" or the "Co-op." Agitation for the formation of a campus-based food cooperative began in 1972 as the university began to consider mandatory board for all students. Diamondback Editor-in-Chief Chad Neighbor wrote in an editorial on March 2, 1972, that students wanted "viable alternatives to the starch, paper plates, lines, heat, and tired menus the food service offers." In the spring of 1974, a member of the SGA Executive Committee approached John Goecker, the Director of the Department of Food Services, for advice on setting up a food co-op. By the fall, the Department of Food Services decided that inflation made a grocery store untenable, so the SGA planned a record store co-op instead. At a mid-September meeting with Goecker, students living in the residence halls expressed their displeasure with the food quality, sanitation standards, and customer service they experienced while patronizing food service. The following week, news broke that the food facilities within the Stamp Student Union were in danger of being closed down for not meeting Prince George's County sanitation standards. In October 1974, the Rainbow Food Co-op, located in Riverdale, Maryland, considered relocating to College Park with funding help from the SGA, though the plan ultimately failed. In August 1975, Matt Mayer submitted an official proposal for a food co-op was to the SGA. It is believed that the precursor to this official proposal was a "Guerrilla sandwich line" that formed in 1975, prior to the offical sanctioning of the Co-op by the SGA, as a protest to the monopoly of the University Dining Services. It supposedly consisted of people making sandwiches at home and selling them out of baskets in the Student Union.

Today, the Co-op continues to operate on the University of Maryland camp, independent of the university and the Department of Dining Services. It is a member of NASCO, the National Association of Student Collectives. Every weekday, a vegan hot lunch is prepared with available fresh vegetables. Cooking, whether of hot lunch or of meals for packaging in glass-display refrigerators, and baking are also important parts of the Co-op's day-to-day activity. There is a deli-style sandwich line with over fifty available spreads, vegetables, cheeses, meats, and condiments. In addition, the Co-op sells grocery items and produce, both of which are mostly organic. During the 2004-2005 academic year, the Co-op experienced sales of $3,000-$4,500 a day during the regular semester and $2,000-$3,000 a day during the summer and winter sessions.

The Co-op is staffed by both paid workers and volunteersThe volunteer program allows anyone to work in exchange for credit that can be used within the store. As a worker's collective, all decisions are made by the workers, through equal voting. Meetings are held weekly and they are open to anyone. The chair of the meeting and the minutes taker rotates every meeting between all paid workers. Anyone attending the meeting can introduce a motion, which is then voted on by paid workers. Menus are decided upon by each shift. They can prepare whatever they want for hot specials or for the case. Sandwich line recipes have followed an oral tradition, with workers adding their own flair. Since the nature of a collective is to give an equal voice to all who work there, workers often use the Co-op as a platform for politics and creative expression. This creates what many workers, customers, and volunteers see as a unique work atmosphere.

Arrangement

The Maryland Food Collective Archives is divided into five series.
Series 1
Correspondence
Series 2
Administrative Files
Series 3
History Documents and Interviews
Series 4
Art
Series 5
Photographs

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The Maryland Food Collective records were kept within the Collective and in storage at Cole Field House until fall 2005, at which time they were transferred to the University of Maryland Libraries.

Related Material

The University of Maryland archives, University Publications collection, includes a box titled "Food Co-op." The box contains the original charter for the Maryland Food Collective and a collection of newsletters, ranging in date from 1975 to 1978. In addition, The Diamondback published a number of articles from the spring of 1974 through the fall of 1974, documenting the atmosphere of frustration among the student population and the attempt to form an on-campus food co-op in response.

Processing Information

Metal fasteners were removed and replaced with acid-free paper covered with plastic clips. All of the newspaper clippings, except the ones on blue paper, were photocopied onto acid-free paper as a result of the fragile, deteriorated condition of the originals. The newspaper clippings on blue paper are original photocopies. Some of the newsletters were originally taped onto highly-acidic scrap paper. Those were also photocopied.
Title
Guide to the Maryland Food Collective records
Status
Completed
Author
Processed by Vakil Smallen.
Date
2006-12-01
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives Library

Contact:
University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742
301-405-9212