Member Handbook

SE KS Buying Club

Serving Independence, Kansas and the surrounding area

This online SE KS Buying Club Handbook is the official handbook of the club.

Prospective Members/New Members:

Please contact our New Member Coordinator with questions:

History of Our Co-op

The Independence area has supported natural food buying clubs since 1980.  These clubs have varied greatly in size, structure and level of member participation.  SE KS Buying Club was started in 2006 to fill the continuing need.


The purpose of the SE KS Buying Club is to provide members with high quality natural foods, at a reasonable cost while creating a supportive network. The club depends on everyone’s volunteer efforts to place orders, distribute and help the club run smoothly.


  • to coordinate our food buying so as to be able to get the best food at the best prices
  • to create a community of people with shared values
  • to experience the pleasures and challenges of working together cooperatively
  • to promote organic agriculture and environmentally responsible technology and products by informed buying
  • to educate others in our community about cooperatives, organic agriculture, environmentally responsible consumerism, etc.
  • to educate ourselves by sharing our skills and knowledge with each other

How do we accomplish our goals and purposes?

  • by respecting the policies and procedures of our co-op
  • by respecting the work each individual does for the co-op
  • by actively sharing our skills with each other and having experienced people train and work with new members
  • by having more than one person know how to do each co-op job

Decision Making

How are decisions made in this co-op?

Major decisions require consensus of all members, with majority rule if consensus cannot be reached. The co-op coordinator or steering committee can make smaller, day-to-day decisions. Major decisions include: fees and surcharges, and change of site, etc.

Who’s in charge here?

The buying club coordinator with input as needed from the steering committee (composed of the buying club coordinator, bookkeeper, treasurer, distribution coordinator, new member contact, and jobs coordinators) runs the co-op on a day-to-day basis. They keep the membership well informed.

When do we re-visit our decisions and renew our agreements?

Members are encouraged to openly discuss their concerns with each other. Any member of the co-op can use the Yahoo Group to discuss any issue of concern to the co-op.

When decisions on major issues are needed, the coordinator’s job is to make sure all members have the opportunity to be involved. This can include email, mail and telephone announcements of the issue and meeting date, with plenty advance warning. Depending on the issue, a committee may have a proposal or alternative proposals for the group to consider.

What if a decision is made that I feel is the wrong decision?

We encourage open discussion of all decisions, and we acknowledge that everyone won’t always agree on everything. Write a short piece for the Yahoo Group/co-op newsletter to get the discussion going.  This co-op values differences of opinion and constructive discussion.


Who is eligible for membership?

Anyone who agrees to fulfill the responsibilities of membership is eligible for membership.

What are the responsibilities of membership?

  • pay a membership fee or dues (to support the expenses of the co-op)
  • attend meetings
  • contribute to the work of the co-op by performing a particular job support the stated goals and principles of the co-op
  • submit food orders and payments on or before the deadline
  • pick up orders on time
  • support positive means for resolving conflict
  • call in or check email to find out delivery time, Wednesday the week of delivery
  • return fabric bags, unwashed, promptly, or pay $1.00 each to replace them

Does this co-op accept non-working members?

This co-op will accommodate non-working members under the following guidelines:

  • Non-working members do not receive the working member discount on purchases.
  • Non-working members who volunteer to help occasionally but do not hold an assigned job are very much appreciated but do not get the working member discount. This would be very difficult to track and adjust invoices, causing much confusion in the process.

Is there a membership fee or dues?

Yes. Members pay an annual membership.  This covers the cost of operating the club. There are three membership options

1.     Working Members (members holding a volunteer job/position) will pay an annual membership fee of $12.00 and will have the opportunity to order from Frontier, Azure, UNFI and Albert’s Organics.  They will also receive a 10% discount on UNFI non-sale items.

2.    Azure Only Members (members wishing to only order from Azure Standard) do not have an annual membership fee but are asked to make a small donation towards the building use fund of 25¢ per order or $3.00 annually.

3.    Non-working Members (members that are unable to hold a volunteer job/position and wish to order from Azure, Frontier, Albert’s Organics and/or UNFI) will pay an annual membership fee of $60.00. This breaks down to $5.00 per month, less than a drive out of town for better food selection!

Who is considered an active member?

An active member is a member who has paid the current year’s dues and has ordered and/or worked 6 times in the past 12 months.

Is there a limit to the number of members the co-op can have?

No, membership is open to anyone who fulfills the responsibilities of membership. When the membership reaches 30 families we will re-evaluate the distribution of jobs and the open membership policy to be sure the increased membership does not adversely affect the operation of the co-op.

Does the co-op offer a leave of absence status?

No, experience has shown us that it gets too complicated

Is there any reason we might ask a member to leave the co-op?

  • Repeatedly not doing their job; bouncing checks; late payments
  • Actions that threaten the safety of other members

Who has the responsibility/authority of asking a member to leave the co-op for the reasons listed above?

Should a problem arise, the steering committee should convene.  The general membership should be given the opportunity to offer relevant information

Can members include in their order items for people who are not members?

No, since more items ordered mean more work that has to be done, it’s only fair that people who are not members should not order through the co-op.

What does the co-op do with problems such as late orders, late payments, bounced checks, etc.

Orders can be submitted until the deadline.  After the deadline, you can try to submit your order, but there is no guarantee it will be added.  If you are ordering whole cases of items or helping to fill cases, it is more likely that your order will be added.

If you bounce a check once, you will be required to pay cash before your order is submitted for three months following the incident. Check writing privileges will then be reinstated.

Payment MUST NOT be late! The club does not have the funds to cover late payments.  Payments are due at the time of the delivery.  If you cannot be at the delivery, please mail your check to the treasurer the day you receive your invoice.  This will ensure that the check is to the treasurer before he/she goes to the bank to deposit all the checks after the delivery. If your check is not received within three days following delivery, you will be required to pre-pay for the next order.

What happens if I received the wrong item?

If it is a non-perishable item, contact the bookkeeper to file a claim.  She/he will then call the warehouse to get a credit on the next delivery.  This must be done within 5 business days of the delivery, so please let the bookkeeper know as soon as possible.

If it is a perishable (refrigerated or frozen) item, it can only be claimed while the truck is still at the site.  If it was a warehouse error (mis-picked at the warehouse) and we didn’t catch it in time to get it back on the truck, the club will pay for the error.  Please try to find someone in the group to buy it from you first before claiming it from the club.  If you can’t use it and no one else will buy it, the club will pay for it, but please donate it to the food bank.


The main form of communication is through the internet by e-mail, yahoo group and the club blog.

Club E-mail

Yahoo Group

The Yahoo! Group has been set up to ease communication between members.  We encourage all members to be a part of this group.  We use it to discuss splitting cases and bulk items as well as discussing meeting times and places.  Policy issues are also discussed on the group site.  We can also discuss recipes, ways to use new products and just general food or buying club related topics.

To get to the seksbuyingclub group:

Go to Click on groups (on left hand side), search seksbuyingclub.  Yahoo will find the group.  Click on the group name and then click join group.

You can also email and ask to be invited to the group.


We have begun a blog for our buying club make it more visible and promote it locally. It is also another way for us to share information within our own membership. The blog is a great tool to link potential members to as it will contain membership information, the member handbook, ordering instructions, etc. The blog is maintained by the Communications Coordinator. Anyone interested in submitting a post can do so by e-mailing their submission to the Communications


The online version of the SE KS Buying Club Handbook is the official handbook of the club. Copies of the online handbook can be found at and in the Files section of the club’s Yahoo group:

Changes to the SE KS Online Handbook may be made at anytime by the coordinator with steering committee approval. Suggestions for changes may be made by any member. Proposed changes should be discussed via the Yahoo Group. The group coordinator then will take the discussion into consideration and request approval from the steering committee. Upon approval the Coordinator will then authorize changes to be made that are deemed appropriate.

Jobs — Getting the Work Done

Does everyone contribute an equal amount of time to the co-op?

Well, yes and no. Some jobs naturally take longer than others, but everyone is expected to contribute something. The average job is usually a 2-3 hour a month commitment with many people assuming more than one position. We believe that over time, and as jobs rotate, everyone’s contribution will be equal.

How are jobs assigned?

The jobs coordinator assigns jobs to new members based on the needs of the co-op.

Once a year we meet to rotate jobs. Jobs are available on a first come, first serve basis by those attending the annual meeting.

We try to have more than one person trained to do certain jobs (like the computer work) that require special skills. We share our skills with each other. New members are encouraged to work at distribution at least a few times because it helps them understand the workings of the co-op.

How does the co-op ensure that people meet their job commitments?

The jobs coordinator keeps track of who’s doing what each month, and will speak to people who don’t fulfill their commitment. If people repeatedly don’t show up to do their job the consequence is being placed on non-working status, thus losing the discount.

How is the working member discount applied?

Every working member receives a 10% discount on UNFI non sale items, no matter the amount of time the job takes.  In fairness to those who do more time consuming jobs for the club (and to encourage others to take the more time consuming jobs), we have an additional discount available.  The higher time consuming jobs will get an additional discount of 5%. These jobs include Bookkeeper and Buying Club Coordinator.  This will be evaluated once a year to make sure the club can continue to support the additional discount.  This extra discount is paid for by the non-working member’s portion of the overall 10% discount. Additional discounts may also be awarded to members who assume more than one club job.

Member Responsibility

Members are responsible for participating in the club, contributing to the work of the club, including annual meetings, committees, etc.   Members also need to submit their order by the deadline, be aware of delivery schedules, call in to find out what time delivery is if necessary, and pick up your order in a prompt manner, bringing payment due.

updated 2-10-2011
last update 3-14-2012
Updated 1-19-2013