Richa Mishra and Her Love for the Co-Op

A lot of people don’t know about the trendy café on the ground level of Stamp Student Union. The Maryland Food Collective is a worker-led natural food store, meaning that there are no bosses or managers in the store. Each person who is employed is treated and paid equally, and everyone shares the same responsibilities.

“Food for people, not for profit” is the establishment's slogan and the Co-op prides itself on being a business that pays close attention to the people it serves as well as their unique personalities and needs.

Junior marketing and art double major Richa Mishra has been a worker-owner at the Co-op for about a year and a half. When you work at the Co-op you are first an apprentice, trained as you learn all the roles and responsibilities. After a semester, you can become a real worker-owner.

As a business where everyone is considered an equal, deciding who does what job each day is a different process than that of a typical business. There is no boss to tell the workers what their responsibilities are.

“We decide who does jobs each day democratically, so getting everyone’s approval to do something or not do something. We also follow a daily checklist of items to be cooked, served and cleaned for the day. We democratically divide up our work, and care about the workload of every other worker owner.” Mishra said.

Not only does the staff at the Co-op serve food, but they also sell natural cosmetic items and clothes while running their own catering services and holding special events. Each of the worker-owners must do their part to ensure that all these parts of the business are successfully managed.

“My favorite part about the job is probably the people it has exposed me to, and the knowledge it has given me,” Mishra said. “I have become a much more critical person to the things happening around me, and have become much more empathetic since working there.”

The next time you’re in Stamp, rethink taking a trip to Panda Express and head over to the Co-op and say hi to Mishra! She recommends trying the rice bowl.