The Food Club Project is a collaborative research network including University of Maine researchers, cooperative food buying clubs, and supporting organizations such as Buying Club Software. The Food Club Project aims to characterize the challenges that buying clubs face, and identify and share the best solutions to those challenges.
Buying clubs are a special part of the food system. Buying clubs are groups of people who join together so that they can buy the food they need in a way they like. By sharing large orders, buying clubs make it easier to purchase special or hard-to-find foods and to purchase in bulk. But, buying clubs face numerous obstacles, from coordinating orders, deliveries and finances to distributing tasks fairly and communicating effectively. But buying clubs also face invisible challenges which can be impossible to perceive until they have run their course.
This collaborative research project uses cutting edge techniques to identify these invisible challenges. The research team is employing computer simulation and economic experiments to understand more precisely how buying clubs work, when they are likely to fail, and how to avoid major pitfalls.
The project and collaborative network are now launching, and we are looking for buying clubs interested in joining the network, participating in the research, and benefiting from the results.