In the beginning...
After visiting the Students, Science and Sustainability Conference at Melbourne University in 1993 a group of students were so impressed by The Melbourne University Food Co-op that they decided to set one up at UNSW. After much effort from Jo Barrett, a member of the Student Environmental Alliance, a little spark of energy grew into what was then known as Pigweed.
The co-op, with little money and minimum stock, first opened in September 1994 for six weeks of trading before the end of session. Its founders named the co-op “Pigweed” after an edible plant that is rich in vitamins. In November 1996, Pigweed became an official Co-operative Ltd.
The membership of the co-op has fluctuated greatly with up to 150 members in its early days. In 2000 the total membership hit an all time low of less than 40 members. This was attributed to a number of different factors including a declining lack of student environmental leadership within the Union, poor facilitation of passing on co-op knowledge to new members and lack of advertising. Less members meant less hours the shop was open, which lead to a vicious circle of less people being involved because the shop was never open for them to join.
Over the summer 2000/2001 break a core group of members were involved in renovating the shop and establishing sustainable systems to ensure that the co-op had every chance of flourishing. As part of these changes, Pigweed changed its name to the UNSW Food Co-op. It was thought the name “Pigweed” appealed to a very limited crowd and so it was changed to appeal to a wider group of people. Members also felt the name needed to be more descriptive. The name UNSW Food Co-op was never fully adopted by members. After much debate and a lack of consensus, a meeting was held to vote on a name for our dear little co-op. The winning name was Thoughtful Foods Co-op, which is what we are called today.
At the end of Semester 1, 2016, we had to relocate our shop due to university redevelopment works. It was extremely tolling on our finances and volunteers' energy, but we got through with the help of our first ever big fundraising event, 'It's a Date with Thoughtful Foods', and our first ever online crowdfunding campaign, 'Make Thoughtful Foods Amazing'. All together we raised almost $9,000 to go towards covering the costs of required renovations to the new space as well as much-needed new food dispensers, better suited to the new space. We will be forever grateful to everyone who donated and gave their energy during this tough time.
While the new Blockhouse space continues to be a work in progress, we are excited about how far we have come. The construction fence opposite the the space came down in early 2018 in time for Semester 1. The last couple of years have seen the development and implementation of various systems to make the co-op run more smoothly including a new point of sale system, EFTPOS and an online ordering system for the organic fruit and vegetable boxes and bread. Please come and visit in our awesome new space!