One of the seven foundational Cooperative Principles that resonates with me most is “concern for community.” Your Board of Directors, as a group and as individuals, strive to demonstrate that principle as we work to grow our co-op; as we undertake this expansion project, we also hope to grow our inclusive cooperative community. Each of us is committed to an accessible, community-owned food market, and as individual member-owners, we are important ambassadors for that. I demonstrate my belief in the notion of democratic, member control of and support for local healthy food for everyone by encouraging my friends and neighbors, who may already be regular shoppers, to become member-owners during our April Membership Drive because I truly believe in what our cooperative stands for.
Currently, half of our co-op’s sales are to individuals who are not member-owners of the business, as everyone is welcome. As we look to the future, we would like to ensure this level of broad community support continues and grows along with our co-op. As member-owners, we know the value of shopping downtown and feeding our families the best food around. I feel it is important to share this knowledge with my friends and neighbors, especially those who might think shopping for quality food at our co-op is beyond their means. I make sure to tell those who might benefit from it about our Healthy Food for All program that can stretch the food dollars of our low-income neighbors by offering them a 10% discount on food. We have to be innovative to serve an economically diverse community, and I am proud that our Management Team is already exploring a new partnership with the Fair Food Network that could increase our co-ops accessibility for food-insecure community members as we grow.
Supporting the efforts of other organizations that share the values of our co-op community provides many opportunities for strengthening our connection to the larger community as well. We will continue to raise money for the Monadnock Food Co-op Farm Fund that gives grants to help local farmers expand production, produce nutrition workshops and other educational resources in-store and online, donate to dozens of local and cooperative organizations, round up our change at check-out for local, mission-aligned organizations. These are just some of the programs we have established in the first five years of our co-op’s existence. I like to dream of all the other innovative initiatives we could implement in the next five! Imagine cooperative methods applied to all phases of food production and delivery…the possibilities are endless!