Just before the 8th Annual Meeting of the Monadnock Food Co-op on October 26, a friend and fellow member-owner asked me why we have annual meetings. The simple answer is that the board is required to, as stated in our by-laws.
However, the meetings are an extremely important opportunity for us to be transparent with our member-owners by sharing a report on the store’s operations and finances for last fiscal year. We also close the voting and report on the election of the board of directions — another critical piece of our democratically governed Co-op.There was another important focus of the annual meeting this year. We had a celebration to mark our 5th year as a successful, member-owned community co-op!
The theme of this year’s meeting was “More than Just a Store.” And the Annual Meeting was more than just a business meeting. We celebrated 5 years as a successful, growing member-owned business that is working hard to meet our Ends (or mission) Statement goals. More than 150 member-owners, staff, and co-op friends attended, and besides enjoying appetizers prepared by Susanne Fortier and the Prepared Foods staff, each of us joined one of five tabletop conversations about topics related to our store expansion: building design, new community spaces, project financing overview, store layout, and new product choices.
Michael Faber, our General Manager, Drew Bedard, the co-op’s Financial Manager, and Kathy Burke, the Board President, all shared news about our financial picture, our efforts to meet the goals of our Ends Statement, and our support of local farmers and vendors. For more specific details about our recent fiscal year, please check out the 2017-2018 Monadnock Food Co-op Annual Report, available at the store if you did not receive a copy. You can also keep current about the expansion project on our website.
The results of the election for board members were announced. Kate Hickey, Dan Maynard-Wyzik and Derek Galligan were each elected by member-owners to 3-year terms as directors on your co-op board.
At the Annual Meeting, the board presented the annual Co-operator of the Year award to Susan Ashworth. This award annually recognizes a co-op member-owner, vendor, staff member, community member, or co-op friend whose work exemplifies the co-operative principles first stated by the pioneer Rochdale cooperators in 19th century England. Susan continues her long career at Home Healthcare, Hospice and Community Service in Keene as an advocate for rural populations of the elderly, especially around food and nutrition. Susan was also an early joiner of the co-op and was a member of our board for six years, starting before we opened. For these reasons, the board recognized her as the 2018 Monadnock Food Co-op’s Cooperator of the Year.
Finally, the guests at the meeting heard our keynote speaker, Marilyn Scholl. Marilyn is a long-time cooperator, starting in the 1970s as a GM of a co-op in Wisconsin. She’s currently a consultant for the national CDS Consulting Co-op, a cooperative that supports independent, member-owned co-ops, including ours. Marilyn helped us understand the history of the food co-ops in the United States, starting with the “first wave” that organized in the 1930s and 40s in response to the Great Depression, and continuing right up to the present.
The board would like to thank all of our store staff who helped to make this Annual Meeting successful.