What is Sylvan Snack Bar?


The Sylvan Snack Bar is a non-profit cooperative student-run business located in McNamara Dorm in the Sylvan Residential Area. We provide evening and late night dining options to students.

The Snack Bar exists now in a room which was once used to serve as storage for students' trunks and suitcases. The idea for a snack bar originated in 1970 with the Sylvan Area Government. This group felt strongly that because Sylvan is a remote residential area, the students would appreciate a place nearby to get food and to socialize. Boy were they onto something!

The Sylvan Area Government brought their proposal to the Student Government Association (SGA), and the project was agreed upon. The SGA loaned funds to the Sylvan Area Government and the project was soon underway. The Sylvan Snack Bar was built over the winter session of 1971, making it the oldest student-run businesses on campus. Students provided the plans and blueprints for its design. Cowl's Building Supply provided the materials and in five weeks the room was completely transformed.


The SSB was first organized as a traditionally run business with all major functions carried out by four to five co-managers. In the fall of 1997, the SSB joined the rest of the student-run businesses on campus by changing over to a cooperative management structure.  The managerial tasks of the SSB were divided into committees which allot each member equal control in business affairs. This structure serves to involve everyone in the running of the business, with all members sharing in both its failures and successes.

What is a Cooperative Business?

Cooperatives are businesses that are equally run and shared by co-managers. As a worker co-op, the Sylvan Snack Bar co-managers work shifts in the Snack Bar serving customers as well as coordinate the behind the scenes work of running and maintaining the business.

Co-ops operate based on the 7 principles of Cooperativism:


1. Open Voluntary Membership: anti-discrimination

2. Democratic Control: every co-manager gets one vote

3. Economic Participation: co-managers decide how money is spent

4. Independence: we are not owned by the university

5. Education: our co-op works as a learning experience in running a small business

6. Cooperation Among Cooperatives: we work with other co-ops for mutual benefit

7. Concern for the Community: we love our community and strive to improve it



MacNamara Basement

102 Eastman Ln

Amherst, MA 01003




Tel: (413)545-3020