What is a Co-op

Celebrate Co-op Month!

This October, your Co-op is joining over 65,000 co-operatives and credit unions across the United States in celebrating Co-op Month, observed nationally since 1964. This year’s theme, “Build Back for IMPACT,” was chosen by the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA CLUSA) to promote how co-ops and their members are working together to build stronger, more inclusive, and resilient communities in the wake of the pandemic.

 

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are critical components of our work here at the Co-op and we remain dedicated to centering these issues so that we’re able to create a more welcoming, inclusive, and participatory atmosphere at our Co-op. After all, people have historically used food co-ops to improve access to healthy, local, affordable food, and build stronger, more inclusive communities and this valuable work must continue. Most co-op grocery stores got their start during times of social and economic change, enabling people to access healthy food, support local producers, and provide good jobs. More recently, a new wave of startups has been growing, representing a renewed interest in food security, and racial and economic justice. Today, the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) includes 40 food co-ops and start-ups, locally owned by more than 164,000 members and employing over 2,460 people.  Together, these co-ops generate shared annual revenue of over $382 million, with local products representing close to a third of total sales. 

“Despite the challenges of the past year, food co-ops across our region continued to grow in 2020, sustaining local producers, providing good jobs, and working to keep shoppers healthy and safe, during the pandemic,” said Erbin Crowell, NFCA Executive Director. For example, NFCA member co-ops grew their revenue by 10% over the previous year, with sales of local products topping $100 million. “And as we look forward, our co-ops are building on this foundation to build more resilient communities, a more sustainable food system, and a more inclusive economy that works for everyone,” added Crowell.

Food co-ops are not alone in their contribution to more inclusive and resilient local communities.  From farmer co-ops to worker co-ops, credit unions to mutual insurance, and housing co-ops to energy co-ops, co-operative businesses thrive across the U.S. economy, where 1 in three people are co-op members.  Around the world, around 1 billion people are members of about 3 million co-operatives, and 10% of the world’s population, or around 280 million people, are employed by co-ops.  And because they are member-owned, co-operatives are rooted in their communities and governed by the people who use them to meet their needs.

A few of our favorite co-op-made products

Our Co-op is celebrating this special month in a number of ways. Throughout the month, we’ll be promoting some of our favorite Co-op-made products so that you can vote with your food dollars for businesses that are actively growing a more inclusive economy. Check out our Weekly Sale and Member Deals displays all month long to find great deals on co-op-made products by Equal Exchange, Frontier, Blue Diamond, La Riojana, and more. Be sure to check out the Addison Independent each week for coupons that will offer even deeper discounts on these great products. 

To find co-op-made products throughout the store, look for the “Go Co-op” signs on the shelves. You may be surprised by what you find, including dairy products from Cabot Creamery Co-op and Organic Valley, fairly traded coffee, tea, and chocolate from Equal Exchange and Alter Eco, La Riojana wines, orange juice from Flordia’s Natural, body care products from Alaffia, bagels from Alvarado Street Bakery, naturally fermented vegetables from Real Pickles — and many others!

To find food co-ops all over the Northeast, and for more examples of how co-ops are building back for impact, please visit www.nfca.coop.

 

 

 

 

Celebrate Co-op Month!

This October, your Co-op is joining over 65,000 co-operatives and credit unions across the United States in celebrating Co-op Month, observed nationally since 1964. This year’s theme, “Build Back for IMPACT,” was chosen by the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA CLUSA) to promote how co-ops and their members are working together to build stronger, more inclusive, and resilient communities in the wake of the pandemic.

 

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are critical components of our work here at the Co-op and we remain dedicated to centering these issues so that we’re able to create a more welcoming, inclusive, and participatory atmosphere at our Co-op. After all, people have historically used food co-ops to improve access to healthy, local, affordable food, and build stronger, more inclusive communities and this valuable work must continue. Most co-op grocery stores got their start during times of social and economic change, enabling people to access healthy food, support local producers, and provide good jobs. More recently, a new wave of startups has been growing, representing a renewed interest in food security, and racial and economic justice. Today, the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) includes 40 food co-ops and start-ups, locally owned by more than 164,000 members and employing over 2,460 people.  Together, these co-ops generate shared annual revenue of over $382 million, with local products representing close to a third of total sales. 

“Despite the challenges of the past year, food co-ops across our region continued to grow in 2020, sustaining local producers, providing good jobs, and working to keep shoppers healthy and safe, during the pandemic,” said Erbin Crowell, NFCA Executive Director. For example, NFCA member co-ops grew their revenue by 10% over the previous year, with sales of local products topping $100 million. “And as we look forward, our co-ops are building on this foundation to build more resilient communities, a more sustainable food system, and a more inclusive economy that works for everyone,” added Crowell.

Food co-ops are not alone in their contribution to more inclusive and resilient local communities.  From farmer co-ops to worker co-ops, credit unions to mutual insurance, and housing co-ops to energy co-ops, co-operative businesses thrive across the U.S. economy, where 1 in three people are co-op members.  Around the world, around 1 billion people are members of about 3 million co-operatives, and 10% of the world’s population, or around 280 million people, are employed by co-ops.  And because they are member-owned, co-operatives are rooted in their communities and governed by the people who use them to meet their needs.

A few of our favorite co-op-made products

Our Co-op is celebrating this special month in a number of ways. Throughout the month, we’ll be promoting some of our favorite Co-op-made products so that you can vote with your food dollars for businesses that are actively growing a more inclusive economy. Check out our Weekly Sale and Member Deals displays all month long to find great deals on co-op-made products by Equal Exchange, Frontier, Blue Diamond, La Riojana, and more. Be sure to check out the Addison Independent each week for coupons that will offer even deeper discounts on these great products. 

To find co-op-made products throughout the store, look for the “Go Co-op” signs on the shelves. You may be surprised by what you find, including dairy products from Cabot Creamery Co-op and Organic Valley, fairly traded coffee, tea, and chocolate from Equal Exchange and Alter Eco, La Riojana wines, orange juice from Flordia’s Natural, body care products from Alaffia, bagels from Alvarado Street Bakery, naturally fermented vegetables from Real Pickles — and many others!

To find food co-ops all over the Northeast, and for more examples of how co-ops are building back for impact, please visit www.nfca.coop.

 

 

 

 

Rebuild Better Together!

On Saturday, July 3rd, your Co-op is joining co-operatives and credit unions around the world in celebrating International Co-ops Day.  This year’s theme, Rebuild Better Together, highlights the resilience of co-ops during the pandemic and the role they are playing in helping our communities rebuild in a more inclusive and sustainable way. International Co-ops Day has been celebrated annually since 1923, and the theme this year was chosen by the ICA and the United Nations to raise awareness of how co-ops have helped their communities weather the pandemic and are contributing to efforts to rebuild the economy. 

“Across our region, food co-ops have worked to keep their communities safe while ensuring access to healthy, local food,” said Erbin Crowell, Executive Director of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA).  “And as we work to build back better, we know that our co-ops will be taking the lead in working together to ensure a more healthy, just, and sustainable future for everyone.” The NFCA is a regional federation of more than 40 food co-ops and startups, locally owned by more than 163,000 members and employing over 2,340 people. 

During the pandemic, co-ops have been leaders in working to ensure that shoppers could access healthy food while remaining safe, including online ordering, curbside pick-up, and special shopping hours for at-risk consumers.  At the same time, they remained committed to local producers, selling more than $100 million in local products annually – or over 25% of store sales, on average.  Thanks to your local purchases, your Co-op is proud to have sold over $6.5 million in Vermont products, representing 34% of total store sales. Last year, more than 12,000 people joined their Neighboring Food Co-ops throughout the region, reflecting a growing interest in food security, community ownership, and economic inclusion. Member-ownership at your Co-op reflected this positive trend, as just shy of 5,500 local households became member-owners or maintained member-ownership in your Co-op by the end of the fiscal year.

Our curbside pickup team worked hard to create systems and fulfill orders to allow community members to minimize their exposure during the pandemic.

The challenges of the past year illuminated the value of resilient local and regional food systems and laid bare the weaknesses inherent in a centralized, industrialized model. Pre-pandemic, Americans were made to believe that a consolidated, vertically integrated food system aimed at increasing profits through efficiency and low wages was the only way to affordably feed ourselves. But images in the news of farmers destroying crops, dumping milk, and euthanizing livestock while a record number of Americans lined up at food banks and applied for food assistance programs in order to feed their families forced us to awaken to the reality that this system is fatally flawed. The pandemic-related disruptions to our national food supply forced many of us to rethink how we feed ourselves. In the process, we became more acutely aware of where our food is coming from and gained a renewed sense of appreciation for the hands that feed us.

Store shelves at the Co-op were abundantly stocked with local foods from the 400+ local farmers and producers that we partner with, while shelves at large chain grocery stores remained empty. We were even able to forge many new partnerships with local farmers and producers to fill voids caused by national supply chain disruptions. This awakening has instilled a more deeply vested interest in figuring out how we can prepare for greater food security on a state and regional scale and food co-ops are well-positioned to play a pivotal role.

Grocery Manager Jen worked hard to secure plenty of toilet paper to keep our shelves stocked during the national TP shortage

Structural changes in our economy have also brought renewed attention to the co-operative model. As member-owned, democratically-operated entities, co-operatives offer an alternative to traditional shareholder- or proprietor-owned business structures allowing co-ops to make unique contributions to economical activity, community vitality, and worker well-being. The very structure of a cooperative requires that it be responsive to the needs of its member-owners and, in turn, to the local community. The nature of cooperatives is inherently both locally based and participatory, embodying a direct connection between member needs and the services provided. Because of this, cooperatives are able to contribute directly to community vitality and stability, modeling equitable and inclusive economic practices. 

  • For every $1,000 spent at a food co-op, $1,604 is invested back into the local economy.
  • Food co-ops create 9.3 jobs per $1 million in sales, compared to 5.8 at traditional grocery stores.
  • Food co-operatives pay about 7% more than traditional grocery stores for the same work. Our co-op was proud to increase our starting wage to $15 per hour this year.
  • Compared to conventional grocery stores, food co-ops recycle nearly double the volume of plastics and food waste.
  • Local products make up an average of 21% of food Co-op sales (and represent 34% of sales at your co-op!), compared to the national grocery store average of 1.8%.
  • In 2020, your Co-op donated $127,289 to local nonprofits and in-kind food donations to our local food shelves.

 

“In the last year, we have witnessed how the co-operative model has been working towards the well-being of people and respect for the planet, underscoring what the co-operative movement stands for,” says Bruno Roelants, Director General of the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA).  “We will indeed rebuild better together, and I’m confident that we will see many stories of how the co-operative movement can help communities become stronger in the post-pandemic world.”

Your Co-op General Manager, Glenn Lower shares that “we are so proud of how well this Co-op served our community over the past year; a year filled with more challenges than ever before in our Co-op’s history. The Co-op truly exemplified what an essential business can be by providing healthy food for the community, an economic outlet for Vermont producers, and good jobs for our committed staff. Through our solidarity, we demonstrate every day how we are stronger together and how we can have a positive impact on our world.”

As part of Co-ops Day celebrations, food co-ops across the Northeast are demonstrating their commitment to their communities and to building more inclusive economies as we work to rebuild in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Celebrated internationally on the first Saturday in July, Co-ops Day in the United States coincides with Independence Day, offering a unique opportunity to focus on the democratic values of the co-operative business model. Based on the principle of one member one vote, co-ops reflect American ideals of democracy, self-help, self-responsibility, and social responsibility. And because co-operatives are focused on meeting member needs rather than maximizing profit, they are focused on goals identified by their members, including social, economic, and environmental sustainability.

To explore the ways that food co-ops are helping to rebuild better together by strengthening communities, keeping it local, making good food affordable and accessible, building a more racially just food system, and responding to the climate crisis, be sure to see the latest Food Co-op Impact Report complied by National Co-op Grocers (NCG).

Rebuild Better Together!

On Saturday, July 3rd, your Co-op is joining co-operatives and credit unions around the world in celebrating International Co-ops Day.  This year’s theme, Rebuild Better Together, highlights the resilience of co-ops during the pandemic and the role they are playing in helping our communities rebuild in a more inclusive and sustainable way. International Co-ops Day has been celebrated annually since 1923, and the theme this year was chosen by the ICA and the United Nations to raise awareness of how co-ops have helped their communities weather the pandemic and are contributing to efforts to rebuild the economy. 

“Across our region, food co-ops have worked to keep their communities safe while ensuring access to healthy, local food,” said Erbin Crowell, Executive Director of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA).  “And as we work to build back better, we know that our co-ops will be taking the lead in working together to ensure a more healthy, just, and sustainable future for everyone.” The NFCA is a regional federation of more than 40 food co-ops and startups, locally owned by more than 163,000 members and employing over 2,340 people. 

During the pandemic, co-ops have been leaders in working to ensure that shoppers could access healthy food while remaining safe, including online ordering, curbside pick-up, and special shopping hours for at-risk consumers.  At the same time, they remained committed to local producers, selling more than $100 million in local products annually – or over 25% of store sales, on average.  Thanks to your local purchases, your Co-op is proud to have sold over $6.5 million in Vermont products, representing 34% of total store sales. Last year, more than 12,000 people joined their Neighboring Food Co-ops throughout the region, reflecting a growing interest in food security, community ownership, and economic inclusion. Member-ownership at your Co-op reflected this positive trend, as just shy of 5,500 local households became member-owners or maintained member-ownership in your Co-op by the end of the fiscal year.

Our curbside pickup team worked hard to create systems and fulfill orders to allow community members to minimize their exposure during the pandemic.

The challenges of the past year illuminated the value of resilient local and regional food systems and laid bare the weaknesses inherent in a centralized, industrialized model. Pre-pandemic, Americans were made to believe that a consolidated, vertically integrated food system aimed at increasing profits through efficiency and low wages was the only way to affordably feed ourselves. But images in the news of farmers destroying crops, dumping milk, and euthanizing livestock while a record number of Americans lined up at food banks and applied for food assistance programs in order to feed their families forced us to awaken to the reality that this system is fatally flawed. The pandemic-related disruptions to our national food supply forced many of us to rethink how we feed ourselves. In the process, we became more acutely aware of where our food is coming from and gained a renewed sense of appreciation for the hands that feed us.

Store shelves at the Co-op were abundantly stocked with local foods from the 400+ local farmers and producers that we partner with, while shelves at large chain grocery stores remained empty. We were even able to forge many new partnerships with local farmers and producers to fill voids caused by national supply chain disruptions. This awakening has instilled a more deeply vested interest in figuring out how we can prepare for greater food security on a state and regional scale and food co-ops are well-positioned to play a pivotal role.

Grocery Manager Jen worked hard to secure plenty of toilet paper to keep our shelves stocked during the national TP shortage

Structural changes in our economy have also brought renewed attention to the co-operative model. As member-owned, democratically-operated entities, co-operatives offer an alternative to traditional shareholder- or proprietor-owned business structures allowing co-ops to make unique contributions to economical activity, community vitality, and worker well-being. The very structure of a cooperative requires that it be responsive to the needs of its member-owners and, in turn, to the local community. The nature of cooperatives is inherently both locally based and participatory, embodying a direct connection between member needs and the services provided. Because of this, cooperatives are able to contribute directly to community vitality and stability, modeling equitable and inclusive economic practices. 

  • For every $1,000 spent at a food co-op, $1,604 is invested back into the local economy.
  • Food co-ops create 9.3 jobs per $1 million in sales, compared to 5.8 at traditional grocery stores.
  • Food co-operatives pay about 7% more than traditional grocery stores for the same work. Our co-op was proud to increase our starting wage to $15 per hour this year.
  • Compared to conventional grocery stores, food co-ops recycle nearly double the volume of plastics and food waste.
  • Local products make up an average of 21% of food Co-op sales (and represent 34% of sales at your co-op!), compared to the national grocery store average of 1.8%.
  • In 2020, your Co-op donated $127,289 to local nonprofits and in-kind food donations to our local food shelves.

 

“In the last year, we have witnessed how the co-operative model has been working towards the well-being of people and respect for the planet, underscoring what the co-operative movement stands for,” says Bruno Roelants, Director General of the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA).  “We will indeed rebuild better together, and I’m confident that we will see many stories of how the co-operative movement can help communities become stronger in the post-pandemic world.”

Your Co-op General Manager, Glenn Lower shares that “we are so proud of how well this Co-op served our community over the past year; a year filled with more challenges than ever before in our Co-op’s history. The Co-op truly exemplified what an essential business can be by providing healthy food for the community, an economic outlet for Vermont producers, and good jobs for our committed staff. Through our solidarity, we demonstrate every day how we are stronger together and how we can have a positive impact on our world.”

As part of Co-ops Day celebrations, food co-ops across the Northeast are demonstrating their commitment to their communities and to building more inclusive economies as we work to rebuild in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Celebrated internationally on the first Saturday in July, Co-ops Day in the United States coincides with Independence Day, offering a unique opportunity to focus on the democratic values of the co-operative business model. Based on the principle of one member one vote, co-ops reflect American ideals of democracy, self-help, self-responsibility, and social responsibility. And because co-operatives are focused on meeting member needs rather than maximizing profit, they are focused on goals identified by their members, including social, economic, and environmental sustainability.

To explore the ways that food co-ops are helping to rebuild better together by strengthening communities, keeping it local, making good food affordable and accessible, building a more racially just food system, and responding to the climate crisis, be sure to see the latest Food Co-op Impact Report complied by National Co-op Grocers (NCG).

Celebrate Earth Day!

Earth Day is Thursday, April 22, marking the 51st anniversary of the very first Earth Day celebration in 1970! According to EarthDay.org, 20 million Americans (representing 10% of the total population of the United States at that time) took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums on that first Earth Day to advocate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Earth Day celebrations have continued to grow in scope and magnitude since that day in 1970 as the awareness of climate change and the dire need for environmental advocacy has become ever more apparent. 

Food co-ops have been looking for ways to reduce environmental impact for decades. In fact, many co-ops were formed by people who wanted access to healthy, delicious food with reduced environmental impact and less waste, and co-ops continue to lead on these issues today. You help co-ops continue this proud tradition every time you choose to shop at one, invest in ownership, or tell a friend about your local food co-op. Here are a few of the ways that co-ops support healthier patterns of production and consumption:

Supporting Local Farmers & Producers

Local products at food co-ops around the country average 21% of total co-op sales, compared with a national grocery store average of just 1.8%. Here at your Co-op, we’re extremely proud to report that 34% of our sales come from local products, thanks to our partnerships with more than 400 local farmers and food producers! Supporting these local farmers and producers with your food dollars helps to decrease environmental impact by reducing the fossil fuel consumption and air pollution associated with transporting foods over long distances. At the average chain supermarket, most of the food items you buy travel over 1500 miles to reach your plate via lengthy truck and plane trips. This not only causes massive fuel consumption and pollution but also involves the need for packing and shipping facilities and refrigeration throughout the supply chain, consuming vast amounts of energy. The more food miles collected during food transportation, the more fossil fuels are burned, allowing more harmful greenhouse gas emissions to be released into the atmosphere.

 

Supporting Organic

Nationwide, co-op shoppers demonstrate an inspiring commitment to the environment, with organic sales at co-ops totaling over $415 million annually. Organic farming methods have been scientifically validated  as being not only more sustainable but a potential answer to some of our most pressing environmental problems. On average more than 33% of the products co-ops carry are USDA Certified Organic and represent 42% of a co-op’s total sales, compared with a national grocery store average of just 5%. Certified organic food by law cannot be grown using toxic pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, or GMO seeds. Beyond the benefit to individual shoppers is the positive impact organic agriculture has on natural systems. Organic methods are supportive of all levels of life from soil microbes to pollinators to the health of farmworkers in the fields.

 

Tackling Food Waste

Spoilage is a perennial challenge for the food industry. Diverting food from the landfill is the key, and co-ops tackle that through donations to food pantries, composting, and better utilization of cooking scraps. Nationally, the average food co-op is donating 24,100 pounds of healthy, edible food to food pantries annually, with a total of more than 1.5 million pounds of food donated in 2016 alone. Similarly-sized conventional grocery stores divert an average of 12,500 pounds, about half of what co-ops do. Here at your Co-op, food waste reduction is a particular passion and we’re proud to have donated over 6,500 pounds of food to our local food shelves last year. Non-marketable foods that are not fit for human consumption are passed along to local farmers who pick up our compost regularly to feed their animals. The remaining food scraps that aren’t fit for animal consumption (coffee grounds, meat scraps, etc.) are picked up by Casella Waste Management and become compost. These practices support our planet by reducing the significant greenhouse gas emissions associated with food scraps entering a landfill and by making the most of the energy expenditure that went into producing those food items in the first place. 

Promoting Reuse and Recycling

According to a 2012 Impact Study, co-ops recycle 96 percent of cardboard, 74 percent of food waste, and 81 percent of plastics compared to 91 percent, 36 percent, and 29 percent, respectively, recycled by conventional grocers. Your Co-op understands that recycling isn’t the panacea we all once believed it to be, so we’ve doubled down on our efforts to reuse and upcycle as many items as possible. We dedicated the Spring 2019 and Spring 2020 issues of our Under the Sun newsletter to this important topic, complete with a map in the 2019 edition centerfold highlighting all of the items throughout the store that are reused either by local farmers and producers (apple crates, delivery boxes, maple syrup buckets, and honey buckets) or by customers (spice scoops, egg cartons, product delivery boxes, etc.). We also installed a cardboard bailer to allow us to minimize the number of trips required by Casella to pick up our recycled cardboard and we’re constantly exploring new ways to offer products without packaging. 

Supporting Sustainable Infrastructure

Buildings have direct environmental impacts, ranging from the use of raw materials for their construction and renovation to the consumption of natural resources, like water and fossil fuels, and the emission of harmful substances. When your Co-op expanded in 2017, significant efforts were made to minimize the environmental impact of the physical store. We prioritized the integrity of the building “envelope” to ensure a high level of control over indoor air quality, temperature, humidity levels, and energy consumption. We also made every effort to use sustainable building materials, installed LED and solar lighting throughout the building and parking lot, and integrated hyper-efficient refrigeration systems. The efficiency of refrigeration systems has a critical impact on a store’s carbon footprint, as refrigeration can account for as much as a third of a typical grocery store’s electricity usage and the refrigerants used in refrigeration systems have a greenhouse warming potential many thousand times that of carbon dioxide. Therefore, reducing refrigerant leaks and carefully maintaining refrigeration systems can have a significant impact. 

While we truly believe Earth Day should be celebrated every day, we love having a specific day set aside to honor our incredible planet and we enjoy the conversation it inspires with regard to environmental sustainability and climate action. People like you make it happen. When you shop at the co-op, your money makes a bigger impact in your local community than at a typical grocery store. At the co-op, your food dollars work to support a robust local economy, a vibrant community, and a healthy environment. Thanks to co-op shopper support, local farmers and producers continue to have a market for their delicious food, organic agriculture continues to grow, local food pantries and nonprofit organizations have a strong partner and together we are making progress towards a fairer food system.

Celebrate Co-op Month!

Every October, cooperatives across the United States join the National Cooperative Business Association in celebrating Co-op Month. The theme for 2019, “Co-ops:  By the Community, for the Community,” is a celebration of how co-ops enable people to work together to meet their needs and build stronger communities.

Across the Northeast, people have used food co-ops to improve access to healthy, local, affordable food. While most of these grocery stores got their start more than 30 years ago some began in the 1930s and ’40s, and a new wave of start-ups have opened their doors in the past ten years, representing a renewed interest in food security and community ownership. Today, the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) includes over 35 food co-ops and start-ups, locally owned by more than 150,000 members and employing over 2,300 people. Together, these co-ops generate shared annual revenue of $340 million, including sales of $93 million in local products. 

 

Our Co-op, founded over 40 years ago, is proud to work with more than 300 local farmers and producers to keep our shelves well-stocked with local foods. Last year, 34% of our store sales represented purchases of local products. This means that the hardworking local farmers and producers in our community have a stable retail market for their wares and your purchases ensure that they can continue to thrive doing the work that they love. But the impact goes well beyond that. Vermont’s dynamic local food system is made up of a diverse range of farmers and food producers including dairy farmers, farmers of fruits & vegetables, livestock, hay, maple products, and specialty crops like hemp; and it also includes thousands of entrepreneurs creating a variety of value-added products (e.g., cured meats, baked goods, beer, chocolate); sophisticated distribution networks; and dozens of organizations that provide business planning, technical assistance, education, and outreach services for these local farmers and producers. So when you’re buying local products, your hard-earned food dollars are supporting so much more than the individual farmer or producer, plus you’re keeping your money circulating within your own community in an impactful way. 

 

 

Another exciting way that our Co-op is able to cultivate community is by giving back. Last year, our Co-op donated over 7 tons of food to our local food shelves, representing a dollar value of $96,527. Thanks to your patronage and willingness to round-up your purchases during our quarterly Rally For Change events, we passed along over $12,818 dollars to Addison County-based non-profit organizations that serve at-risk populations. Last year’s Empty Bowl dinner raised $2,244 for local food shelves, HOPE and CVOEO, and the September Share the Harvest partnership with NOFA-VT allowed us to pass along $1,844 to purchase local farm shares for community members in need. We were also able to donate gift cards to each and every Addison County-based non-profit that reached out to us seeking support for various raffles, fundraisers, and community events, totaling over $20,000. Being a community-owned, not-for-profit grocery store allows us to share our profits back to the community in a meaningful way that benefits all. 

Food co-ops are not alone in their contribution to more resilient local communities. From farmer co-ops to worker co-ops, credit unions to artist co-ops, and housing co-ops to energy co-ops, cooperative businesses thrive across the U.S. economy, where 350 million people are co-op members. Nationwide, cooperatives generate $514 billion in revenue and more than $25 billion in wages, according to a study conducted by the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives. And because they are member-owned, co-ops are rooted in their communities and governed by the people who use them to meet their needs.

Throughout Co-op Month, we’ll be featuring special sales and promotions on many of our favorite co-op-made products. Just look for the “Go Co-op” signs on the shelves that identify products that were made by our Co-op or other cooperatives. You may be surprised what you find, including dairy products from Cabot Creamery Co-op and Organic Valley; fairly traded fresh produce, chocolate, and coffee from Equal Exchange; fairly traded quinoa and chocolates from Alter Eco; naturally fermented vegetables from Real Pickles; body care products from Alaffia;  and wine from La Riojana! You’ll also find that many of these products are part of our Co-op Basics program at everyday low prices that keep them within reach for any budget. 

To learn more about the history of the cooperative movement and the impact that co-ops have in their communities, visit nfca.coop. And thank you for supporting your locally-owned, locally-grown Co-op!

Celebrate International Day of Cooperatives!

The United Nations International Day of Cooperatives is celebrated annually on the first Saturday of July. The aim of this celebration is to increase awareness of cooperatives, the work we do in our communities, and the things that make our business model unique. 

The theme of the International Day of Cooperatives for 2019 is COOPS 4 DECENT WORK. We are shouting out the message that cooperatives are people-centered enterprises characterized by democratic control that prioritize human development and social justice within the workplace.

Cooperative employment is far from a marginal phenomenon. According to a recent estimate, cooperatives around the world employ or are the main source of income for more than 279 million people—almost 10% of humanity’s total working population!

Here’s a look at the cooperative impact in New England:

Together, the Neighboring Food Co-op Association includes more than 35 food co-ops and start-ups that are
 
  • Locally owned by 150,000 people (up from 144,000 last year)
  • Provide more than 2,300 good local jobs (up from 2,000)
  • Generate $340 million in shared revenue (up from $330M)
  • and sell over $93 million in local products every year (up from $90M)
 

Beyond these numbers, different studies have confirmed that, by comparison with employment in other sectors, cooperative jobs…

  • tend to be more sustainable over time
  • show a smaller gap in earnings between higher and lower-paid positions, and
  • are more evenly distributed between rural and urban areas.

Co-operative businesses granted equal voting rights for women almost a century before most parliaments of the world did! 

As businesses driven by values, not just profit, cooperatives share internationally agreed principles and act together to build a better world through cooperation. Putting fairness, equality and social justice at the heart of the enterprise, cooperatives around the world are allowing people to work together to create sustainable enterprises that generate long-term jobs and prosperity. 

As people-centered enterprises, cooperatives have an important role to play in the creation of decent jobs and the social and economic empowerment of local communities. The second International Cooperative Principle, “Democratic member control,” enables communities to own and govern cooperatives jointly through democratic control that brings about inclusive and sustainable growth, leaving no one behind.

As member-owned, member-run and member-serving businesses, cooperatives empower people to collectively realize their economic aspirations, while strengthening their social and human capital and developing their communities.

So on Saturday, July 6th join us as we celebrate a future in which human development and social justice are priorities! Through #CoopsDay, local, national and global policymakers, civil society organizations and the public, in general, can learn how cooperatives contribute to a decent working environment.

To learn more visit: www.coopsday.coop

 

Celebrating Co-op Month

“…Twenty-eight working people founded the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society A store was opened that only offered five items for sale, and though the shop lacked inventory, it was filled with hope. What they lacked in experience, the members made up with enthusiasm. From the mutual efforts of those humble workers grew an idea that today serves (over 1 billion) members worldwide. The year 1844, therefore, represents the birth of the modern cooperative movement.”

-from Weavers of Dreams, a book about the history of cooperatives by David Thompson

 

This October, our Co-op is joining over 40,000 co-operatives and credit unions across the United States in celebrating Co-op Month, observed nationally since 1964. This year, the National Cooperative Business Association has chosen “Co-operatives See the Future” as the theme for the month, inviting co-op members to work together to make the world a better place, now and for future generations.

“From healthy food to organic agriculture, Fair Trade to building stronger local economies, good jobs to alternative energy, food co-ops have been pioneers, empowering people to work together to make the world a better place,” said Erbin Crowell, Executive Director of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA).  “And as our co-ops look to the future, we are working to build a more fair, sustainable, and inclusive economy that works for everyone.”

A little over a decade ago, the co-ops that would later form the NFCA began envisioning how the future might be different if they worked together.  As a first step, they commissioned a study to better understand their shared impact.  At the time, few would have guessed that these 17 co-ops had a combined membership of 64,000 people and annual revenue exceeding $161 million. They also had a dramatic impact on local economies, including sales of more than $52 million in local products and jobs for over 1,200 people. Taken together, food co-ops in Vermont were among the top 25 employers in the state!

This year, the NFCA surveyed the same co-ops to see what changed over the past decade.  Though one co-op from the original study closed its doors, the others have continued to grow, with overall membership expanding 38% to more than 88,000 people who, together, own their local grocery store.  Shared revenue has also increased 39% to over $224 million, with sales of local products growing to $64.7 million.  Employment grew 20% to 1,485, while and wages grew 69%, from $28.6 million to almost $48.3 million, reflecting the commitment of food co-ops to more sustainable jobs.

During the same time, the NFCA as a whole has grown, and now includes over 35 food co-ops and start-ups, locally owned by more than 144,000 members and employing over 2,300 people.  Together, these food co-ops generate shared annual revenue of $330 million, including sales of $90 million in local products. 

And food co-ops are not alone in their contribution to more resilient local communities.  From farmer co-ops to worker co-ops, credit unions to mutual insurance, and housing co-ops to energy co-ops, co-operative businesses thrive across the U.S. economy, where 1 in 3 people are members of at least one co-op or credit union.  Nationwide, co-operatives create 2.1 million jobs and generate more than $650 billion in sales and other revenue annually. Because they are member-owned, co-ops are driven by the needs of the people who work there or use their products and services, rather than maximizing profit.

In celebration of Co-op Month, we’ll feature many co-op made products in our weekly sales and be sure to clip the coupon from the Addison Independent which will save you $3 on any co-op made product.  Look for the “Go Co-op” signs on the shelves (see image above) that identify products that were made by other co-operatives. You may be surprised by what you find, including dairy products from Cabot Creamery Co-op and Organic Valley, fairly traded bananas, avocados, coffee, and chocolate from Equal Exchange, naturally fermented vegetables from Real Pickles, Northeast Grown frozen fruits and vegetables from your Neighboring Food Co-ops — and many others. 

Celebrating Co-op Month

October is International Co-op Month! We’re celebrating all month long with special store promotions on products made by cooperatives like Organic Valley, Equal Exchange, Alaffia, Frontier, Blue Diamond, Cabot, La Riojana, and Real Pickles, to name a few. We’re also celebrating this special month by spreading the word about the cooperative business model and what makes it so unique.

What is a Co-op?

There are over 2.5 million cooperatives around the globe, including food co-ops, agricultural co-ops, housing cooperatives, artists’ co-ops, credit unions, and even cooperative sports teams! Despite our diversity, we are all unified by the Seven Cooperative Principles, which are a set of ideals that form the basis for how cooperatives around the world operate. They were created in 1844 by the founders of the very first co-op, the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers in Rochdale, England, and we are still guided by this same set of principles today.

In short, cooperatives exist to meet the needs of their member-owners and their communities. They are democratically controlled by their member-owners through an elected Board of Directors, and the profits generated by a cooperative are equitably distributed back to the member-owners and the community through patronage dividends and community philanthropic activities. “When you shop at your local food co-op, you’re getting more than good food for you and your family,” said Erbin Crowell, Executive Director of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA). “You are also joining with other people in your community to build local ownership, provide good jobs, support your local farmers and producers, and build stronger, more vibrant communities.”

From food co-ops to farmer co-ops, worker co-ops to credit unions, and housing co-ops to energy co-ops, many different types of co-operatives contribute to our communities and the economy. Co-ops are also more common than you might think: here in the United States, 1 in 3 people are members of at least one co-op or credit union. Nationwide, cooperatives create 2.1 million jobs and generate more than $650 billion in sales and other revenue annually. Because they are member-owned, co-ops empower people from all walks of life to work together to build a better world.

Our Co-op

Our cooperative began in the early 1970’s as a pre-order buying club with a goal of providing members with wholesome, natural foods. Fast forward 40 years and there are now over 4,700 member households in this community that own our Co-op! Our member-owners elect an eleven-member Board of Directors to develop policies which guide the fundamental direction of our cooperative and we have a General Manager to guide our staff in the day-to-day operations of the store.

Our Ends

Our Ends statement lists the reasons we exist as a co-op:

MNFC member-owners, customers, and the community benefit from

  • healthy foods
  • a vibrant local economy
  • environmentally sustainable and energy efficient practices
  • cooperative democratic ownership
  • learning about these values

We also have a buying criterion that guides our decision making about what types of products we offer. Our buying criterion includes a strong emphasis on local and organic products and we currently work with over 400 different local farmers and producers to make that happen.

Community Impact

This year’s Co-op Month theme is “Co-ops Commit . . .”, which invites cooperatives to complete the slogan in a way that reflects their priorities and visions for the future. We’re excited for this opportunity to celebrate how our food co-op is committed to this wonderful community. As mentioned previously, we are locally owned by more than 4,700 member-owner households and profits generated by our cooperative are equitably distributed back to the member-owners and the community through patronage dividends and community philanthropic activities. We provide jobs to over 90 people and pay more than $3.5 million to local farmers and producers every year. $1.3 million of that goes directly to Addison County farmers and producers. Last year, we were able to donate $51,000 to various Addison County-based nonprofits and donate over 12,000 pounds of food to local food shelves. And we couldn’t do any of it without your support!

We’re awfully proud to serve this community and to be so well supported by our member-owners. When a community-owned store like our Co-op thrives, we see it is a reflection of a thriving, healthy community. As we like to say,  It’s YOUR Co-op – own it!

© Copyright 2021 - Middlebury Food Co-op