PT Food Co-op

The Food Co-op, 414 Kearney Street, Port Townsend, 98368
Port Townsend
Phone: (360) 385-2883

General Manager’s Blog – March 2018

by Kenna S. Eaton

Each month, I report to the board on how we are progressing on our long-term goals, which we call our Ends. These Ends reflect our aspirations—what we hope to accomplish—and they are what makes us different from a regular grocery store. We publish these reports as a blog to keep our member-owners up to date on what we are doing.

The reports are organized by our five Ends, although not all are discussed in every report. Our Ends say that, as a result of all we do—

  • We will be the market of choice for our community to access local, organic, and non-GMO products.
  • A vibrant local and regional food system will provide our community with a year-round supply of food sold at prices that are fair to both consumers and producers.
  • We will have an engaged staff and board that use their expanding knowledge and skills to create a thriving workplace.
  • Our operations will be environmentally sustainable for the benefit of our members, community, and the planet.
  • Our members will be knowledgeable about the products they consume, the connection between food choices and personal health, and environmentally sustainable practices.

March 2018 GM Report

Market of Choice

Staff have been hard at work thinking about how we will get our work done during the coming

construction. There are three main issues at the heart of this process: 1) How we will receive, stock, and store goods as they come into the store; 2) How we will mitigate the effect all this work will have on the parking lot; and 3) how we will communicate all of this information to staff and shoppers in a timely fashion. We’ve put together several teams to develop plans that we can put in effect as needed. While everyone knows having a plan is critical, we’re also preparing our team to be flexible and adapt as those plans inevitably change.

We will soon be changing credit card processors. One of the advantages of the new processor is that we will be able to take chip cards, AmEx, Apple Pay, and potentially, the upcoming e-WIC cards (possibly in 2019) at the register.

In the meantime, we’ve had several great demos, such as the Citrus Fest, sponsored by Organically Grown Company. Brendon O’Shea (once our Local Cultivator) was in the store for four hours sampling out all the great citrus available in winter and early spring. And in an ongoing effort to mitigate the loss of the MADay this year (due to expansion), we held a special 3-day, 10% off bulk confectionary sale prior to Valentine’s day.

Food System Development

During the last month, we gained seven new local items and 21 new regional items. We now have individually wrapped gluten-free cookies from Better Living Thru Coffee and a new vendor from Bellingham, Sea Witch Botanicals—our first order included incense and lip balms in tins.

Crop Calendars for 2018 have been finalized and sent out to our local farmers. These calendars organize who is our primary and secondary grower for all the local fruits and veggies. These calendars are the result of many meetings between our produce team and our local growers. The calendars tell us what crops to expect when and from whom, and help farmers plan their season.

In early February, we attended (and cohosted) a restaurateur/farmer meet up organized by the Jefferson County Local Food System Council. About 65 people attended this event designed to enable local restaurants and farmers to meet and discuss the whys and wherefores of using local food in their restaurants, as well as identifying first steps towards increasing farm-direct food use in Jefferson and neighboring county restaurants. There is a distinct possibility that the Co-op will be sharing versions of our crop calendars with the local restaurants to assist in their own ordering plans.

Land Works Collaborative met in December to review plans for 2018. The group will continue to have WSU as its fiscal sponsor and will meet quarterly for partner updates and to hear from potential clients. The Jefferson County Farmers Market has decided not to be a part of Land Works this year due to a lack staff time and a lack of interest from any Famers Market board member.

Building Internal Capacity

This winter we have had seven staff and two board members attend the “lean thinking” trainings held in PT and Chimacum. We are truly excited to have more staff attend these trainings, as they come back ready to help their teams find new, efficient, and effective ways to get our work done. We are also looking for different ways for these staff members to share not just their new knowledge but also the Lean-inspired projects they took on. Stay tuned!

In 2017, the Co-op board, interested member-owners, staff, and I spent a good portion of the year reviewing our existing strategic plan, measuring it against our progress over the past five years and evaluating its efficacy for the next five to seven—or even ten—years. With draft in hand, the board and the Co-op management team met in February to review our new plan, testing it against our assumptions and our reality. The three-hour meeting was filled with great conversation, great food, great work, and great results—not to mention fun!

Sustainability

The Co-op’s “green team,” SURF, conducted another audit of our dumpsters (trash) in early February. While we are still compiling and analyzing the data, anecdotal evidence (i.e., my

observations) indicates that our staff does a great job of recycling whatever can be recycled, and I am super impressed. Still, a big problem for us is what we call “contaminated paper.” These used, dirty, and/or wet paper products cannot be recycled, but they could be composted in a commercial composter, if one were available in our region. We are still pursuing this possibility with the county, but we’ve had no traction so far. If you think recycling and composting are important, you can write the county to ask them to get a commercial composter.

On Tuesday, February 20, the “grab & go” case was running a few degrees too warm. Staff noticed quickly, double checked temps, and pulled product so that there was no product loss. Adjustments were made so that the case could be reloaded the following morning. Turns out, the combination of low temperatures and low Freon due to a small leak resulted in the case not getting enough cooling. Repairs were soon made.

Education, Outreach, and Advocacy

The Product Research Committee completed their annual update to The Acceptable and Unacceptable Food Ingredients List (TAUFIL). The updated list will be available in the store and posted on our website.

New this month is the “Cooking with the Coop” club at the middle school. Sponsored by the Co-op, six local chefs are volunteering to plan and run a weekly after-school cooking program for the students at Blue Heron. We’re excited to help Stacey Larsen, Director of Food Service for the PT School District, make this dream a reality, and we’re excited to help kids learn to cook. This will be a pilot program added to the existing after-school arts and tutoring schedule. The Co-op will be covering the cost of the food and any related expenses, such as advertising and marketing.

We have also kicked off our own 2018 cooking classes (for all ages), featuring Sidonie Wilson, local chef and food arts teacher. The first class, learning to cook gluten free, was sold out with 15 attendees. In fact, we now think 15 is too many students and so will be setting the limit at 12 in future.

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