Frequently Asked Questions

What is Sprouts Food and Health Co-op?2017-11-28T23:41:53-05:00

Sprouts Food and Health Co-op is a multi-stakeholder, not-for-profit co-operative bringing together eaters, workers, health practitioners, and community partner (producers) members.

We are dedicated to create diverse and connected communities that recognize, practice, and advocate for equitable and sustainable food and health systems by providing holistic and diverse food and health options, education and meaningful employment.

Why Put Food and Health Together?2017-11-28T23:08:01-05:00

There are 4 types of Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) which are the top cause of death worldwide: cardiovascular diseases (responsible for 48% of these deaths), cancers (21%), chronic respiratory diseases (12%), and diabetes (3%).

NCDs are largely preventable by tackling 4 risk factors: tobacco, unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, and harmful use of alcohol.

According to World Health Organization:

  •   36 millions people die annually from NCDs.
  •   63% of all global deaths are due to NCDs (WHO, 2011).
  •   18% of children and adolescents aged 5-19 are overweight and obese in 2016 compared to 4% in 1975 (WHO, 2017).

We believe in “We Are What We Eat”. Sprouts is dedicated to advocate for improving accessibility to holistic and diverse food and health options and food security at both the personal and the community levels.

What Does Sprouts Do?2017-11-28T23:42:04-05:00

We achieve our mission through 4 pillars of products and services:

(a)   Distributing Organic/Ecologically Responsible Produce: we support local economy by sourcing produce/products that are: local, affordable, wholesome and non-toxic, ecologically and socially responsible, environmentally responsible packaging, ethical animal practices.

(b)    Providing Education and Knowledge Transfer: we empower the diverse communities through education on organic products, nutrition, cooking, healthy recipes, physical activities and healthy lifestyles.

(c)    Producing Healthy Meals and Packaged Food: we provide holistic and culturally relevant recipes designed by our bilingual registered dietitians and encourage our members to expand the range of diets and foods to eat more varied and balanced.

(d)   Advising on healthy lifestyle management: we provide nutrition counseling, exercise and circuit training, psychotherapy and lifestyle management coaching.

What is the structure of Sprouts Food and Health Co-op?2017-11-28T23:42:12-05:00

Sprouts is a multi-stakeholder, not-for-profit co-operative with each member having on equal vote, no matter what their investment. Our members are 4 different stakeholder members groups: workers, consumers, health practitioners, and community partners.

Consumer members are eaters and/or members who purchase our products and services.

Health practitioners are regulated health professionals who provide education, services and consultations to other members.

Community partners are corporations or individuals who are either producers of products carried by Sprouts or organizations that consume our products and services.

At Sprouts, we have an elected Board of Directors who make major decisions on behalf of the co-op’s members. Our Board is comprised of members from each of the different stakeholder members groups to ensure diverse representation in the decision-making process.

What is a Co-op?2017-11-28T23:42:56-05:00

A co-operative is a business or enterprise that is owned and democratically controlled by its members.

Cooperatives use the one owner/one vote system (not the one-vote-per-share system used by most businesses). This ensures that people, not capital, control the organization.

Co-ops empower individuals and encourage healthier and stronger communities by pooling members’ resources and sharing risks.

Quick Co-op Facts2017-11-28T23:42:27-05:00
  • The co-operative model has proven to be stronger and more resilient than conventional business models, with a survival rate that is almost twice as high as other businesses, when compared after 5 and 10 years of operation.
  • Co-ops are the fastest growing socio-economic movement in the world. They exist in virtually every sector of the economy including agriculture, financial services, and housing.
  • Globally 800 million people are members of co-operatives.
  • There are approximately 10 000 cooperatives and credit unions in Canada alone providing products and services to 18 million owners!
  • The co-operative sector in Ontario represents $30 billion in assets.
  • Some of the larger Canadian co-ops include Mountain Equipment Co-op and GayLea. Desjardins Credit Union is the sixth largest financial institution in Canada.
  • In the Maritimes food co-ops control over 12% of the grocery share in the whole region.
  • While each co-op is unique, they are all ownership-based, driven by social as well as economic concerns, and guided by 7 principles, including equality and solidarity.
What is the role of food co-ops in supporting local farmers and economy?2017-11-28T23:24:16-05:00

Cooperative grocers play an important role in communities across the country as purveyors of local, organic and sustainable foods:

  •     Food co-ops spend 3x more on locally-sourced products, give 3x more to charity, sell far more organics, and pay significantly better local wages & benefits.
  •     On average, they support over 150 local farms and other producers. For every dollar spent at a food co-op, 1.6x more money is generated in the local economy!

What’s to love about co-op video?

What are the 7 principles of co-op?2017-11-28T23:43:20-05:00

(i)     1st Principle – Voluntary and Open Membership: All Welcome – No pressure

Co-operatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons who are able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.

(ii)    2nd Principle – Democratic Member Control: One member = One vote

Co-operatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary co-operatives members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote) and cooperatives at other levels are organized in a democratic manner.

(iii)  3rd Principle – Member Economic Participation: NO free rides

Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their co-operative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the co-operative. They usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing the co-operative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the co-operative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.

(iv)  4th Principle – Autonomy and Independence: Self-control, no parents

Co-operatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their co-operative autonomy.

(v)   5th Principle – Education, Training and Information: Share, Learn, Grow

Co-operatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their co-operatives. They inform the general public—particularly young people and opinion leaders—about the nature and benefits of co-operation.

(vi)  6th Principle – Co-operation Among Co-operatives: Together Everyone Achieves More

Co-operatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the co-operative movement by working together through local, national, regional, and international structures.

(vii)    7th Principle – Concern for Community: Building Strong Communities

While focusing on member needs, co-operatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies accepted by their members.

FURTHER RESOURCES2017-11-28T23:43:31-05:00

Ontario Co-operative Association

Canadian Co-operative Association

For a more in-depth overview, please read “What is a Co-operative” by ON Co-op Association.

Check out some other co-operatively-owned retail grocery stores in Ontario:

Big Carrot (Toronto)

Karma Co-op (Toronto)

West End Food Co-op (Toronto)

Your Local Market (Stratford)

London Food Co-op (London)

Collingwood Community Food Co-op (Collingwood)

Karma Project (Penetanguishene)

Eat Local Sudbury

Sandy Hill Food Co-op (Ottawa)

Dandelion Foods (Almonte)

The True North Community Co-operative (Thunder Bay)

What does it mean to be a member of Sprouts?2017-11-28T23:43:36-05:00

Sprouts has 4 stakeholder-groups or membership: worker-members, health practitioner-members, community partner-members, and consumer-members. You can join Sprouts Food and Health Co-op  and become a member for a $5 lifetime membership.

The Board of Directors is an elected group of members who include persons from each of the stakeholder member group, sitting on our Board and representing the membership at large. Although the Board makes the big decisions for the co-op, all members do get to have their voices heard.  For example, survey will be sent out to our membership asking them what kind of products they would like to see Sprouts to carry. This type of feedback is essential to building a co-operative that is created for the community and by the community. We also have an Annual General Meeting (AGM) where the board selection and other important decisions are made. We strive to develop various ways that members can participate, contribute, and get involved.

How can I get involved with Sprouts?2017-11-28T23:29:41-05:00

We are excited when you want to get involved with Sprouts. There are many ways that you can get involved:

Join Us: You can join us by purchasing a $5 membership.

Donate:  We gladly also accept donations to help us along the way.  Every donation makes a difference.

Volunteer: you’ve got great skills? Like to help in events? Prefer to work ink kitchen? We need a lot of volunteers to help out. If you are able to help, email us at

Visit our website and social media: Get the latest updates from us on our websites and social media.

What is a Bond?2017-11-28T23:30:45-05:00

A bond is a low interest loan that members can purchase in order to invest in the co-op.  Sprouts is planning to sell bonds (also called members’ loan) to raise funds for our co-op. The first set of bonds are planned to be launched in Spring 2018 at $500 increments with 3.5% interest, considerably better than a Canada Savings Bond.  Each bond had a five or ten-year term; interest began to accrue after two years (2020).  Members can purchase up to $10,000 per person per calendar year. The board will re-set the interest rate in the subsequent set of bonds based on financial situation of the co-op.

Donations of any amount can still be made at any time. However, as Sprouts is not a registered charity, we are not able to provide charitable receipts at this point.

Why does Sprouts sell bond?2017-11-28T23:31:39-05:00

The bonds invested with Sprouts go towards start-up costs associated with starting a new business: renting a kitchen and office, inventory, creating a point of sale system, and developing programs to support a range of accessibility needs – all of these important things are to be created with the investment from our community.  It is due to this early investment that we are able to provide high quality foods for our consumers. And we hope that the community is pleased with all of the delicious returns we provide as a result!

Liability of members?2017-11-28T23:32:49-05:00

The liability of a member is limited in accordance with the Co-operative Corporation Act (link with the act) in Ontario. Still have questions? Email us (link with

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