PT Food Co-op

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

Archive for the ‘Port Townsend Food Co-op’ Category

General Manager’s Blog

August 14th, 2017 by markb

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 thought we would start publishing 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.

July 2017 GM Report

Market of Choice

Last chance for La Riojana olive oil until next year! We will soon be out of bottles from the 2016 pressing. Don’t worry, we’ll be preordering soon for the next pressing from our fellow cooperative. When we get in the 2017 oil, we plan to do an in-store taste test of our various olive oils, which should be fun and informative, so keep an eye on our website for info.

Food System Development

In early June, following our annual members meeting, we held an exploratory meeting for a possible “Eat Local First” campaign. We invited Sara Southerland from Sustainable Connections in Bellingham to join us and a group of interested local food advocates to discuss the possibility of launching our own campaign in 2018. Based on the positive response from attendees, a second meeting, hosted and led by the Co-op, will be scheduled for later, although with the store remodel and expansion taking up most of our time, we may not move forward with this idea until early next year.

The LandWorks Collaborative—of which the Co-op is a member—has set priorities for upcoming work, and the top two are business succession planning education (as many local business owners near retirement) and planning a second Pitch Night for the fall, to help local entrepreneurs find support for their ideas.

Local and regional product update:  New in June, we have local Finn River plum wine and a new Island Thyme lotion from Orcas Island. We are also arranging with two new vendors to bring in products—Fiddlehead Creamery, which makes frozen non-dairy treats in Port Townsend, and San Juan Island Sea Salt, which sends us salt and honey from San Juan Island. And Co-op staff who buy local products for the store will be meeting again August 1 to review progress made so far and to share tips for cultivating vendor relationships.

Collaboration among vendors:  In addition to delivering our orders for Wildtime Foods, Hummingbird Wholesale is now also bringing us our Sweet Creek products. (Sweet Creek is a family business in Elmira, Oregon.)

Also, as a part of Glorybee’s “Save the Bee” campaign, in late June we ran a promotion for Pollinator Week. The product we chose was Grizzlies “The Bee’s Knees” granola, produced in Oregon by Wildtime, and distributed and promoted by Glorybee. We’ll keep promoting this product for a few more weeks to ensure it gets good exposure.

Environmental Sustainability

For the third year in a row, the Co-op had the lowest emissions rate in 2016 of any of the EPA Green Chill partners. And as a part of our 2016 sustainability report, I noted that our consumption of propane decreased 28% last year, as it did in 2015. Given the similarity and consistency in numbers, we are crediting the new HVAC units installed in each of those years with creating this positive impact on our carbon footprint.

Advocacy, Education, and Outreach  

The marketing crew has been working hard—and having fun—keeping up with all our activities.

  • All communications regarding the member dividend were deployed in a timely manner and members are happily using their shares at the store, either for groceries or donating it to our Twin Pines Community Fund.
  • The summer edition of The Commons was finalized on time, published, and inserted in The Leader as usual. Cashier Liam and Produce Manager Laura both wrote pieces for us this issue.
  • Cooking classes and in-store demos are continuing through the summer months with Italy in June, Greece in July, and Mexico in August. Attendance at classes is steady with an average of 12 attendees per class, a big increase over a year or two ago.
  • The Food Co-op is sponsoring both Jefferson Land Trust’s “Forest Festfundraiser on August 24 (https://saveland.org/join-us-forestfest/) and the 2017 Farm Tour on September 16 and 17 (http://extension.wsu.edu/jefferson/agriculture/farm-tour/).

Dig In with Your Co-op!

August 1st, 2017 by markb

 

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Join Us August 22 for an Open House on the Food Co-op Expansion Project

The Food Co-op board would like to invite our members to an open house on Tuesday, August 22, to see the plans for our expansion and remodel. Please join us in the Co-op dining room between 6 and 7:30 pm to see the revised floor plan for the store as well as Mindy Dwyer’s sketch imagining how we might look after the remodel. We’ll also have a (flexible) timeline for the expansion, from groundbreaking to completion, plus information on how we are financing the work. And, since we’ll have a little more space in the remodeled store, you can tell us what new products you would like to see—we just might have room for them.

What a Ride It’s Been!

When we began this process more than two years ago, we knew it would be a long and complicated road—and it certainly has been. First, we canvassed our members and staff on what they wanted in a store, and then we explored our options, from building anew at a different location to multiple small stores to staying at our present beloved home. Gradually, staying put and expanding slightly became the obvious choice, both economically and emotionally.

We’ll Break Ground in November (We Hope!)

A modest expansion and remodel is rather more complicated and difficult than simply building at a new location, so it is taking time to get all our ducks in a row, but now we are ready to unveil our plans. And if permitting goes as planned, we hope to break ground in November. We’ll be open the entire time we are building and remodeling, so we are going to need your patience and good humor as things get a little more crowded and messy for awhile.

Co-op Members are the Best

But we know our members will see us through, because you told us you love the location, support the Co-op because of what we do, and you want to see those back rooms fixed so our staff has the best possible place to work. We really are a little different here!

 

Strategic Plan Renewal

July 7th, 2017 by markb

As section “owner” for A2, I summarized our revisions in this report for the June consent agenda. At the Board’s November 2017 work session, we will have a chance to revisit all five sections revised over the course of the year before formally adopting our new 2018-2022 Strategic Plan. – Monica le Roux, Board President

Section Title: Food System Development

End: We will collaborate with consumers and producers to support a resilient local and regional food economy, ensuring a diverse food supply.

Strategies:

Increase quantity and diversity of locally and regionally produced food available through the Co-op.

Provide information and assistance to local farmers and producers to help them meet the growing demand for local products.

Expand and strengthen relationships with independently and/or cooperatively owned producers and distributors.

Collaborate with local partners to:

  • Raise community awareness of and community support for local food production.
  • Strategically address gaps in food production, storage, and distribution.
  • Contribute to the development of the local and regional food security plans.
  • Support local wholesale buyers in purchasing more regional and local products.

Overview:

In renewing this End, the Board consulted with our member-owners and staff, and came to the conclusion that our original reason for creating this End still held true: as an organization, our most concrete ability lies in growing the market for local, independently owned, and/or cooperative businesses. In order to do so, however, we must collaborate with various partners to create a resilient local and regional food economy, for only in such a system would the foods and products we hoped to help to market be available.

During our research for renewal of this End, our member-owners emphasized to us their belief in the importance of partnering with other organizations and businesses, and ensuring a diversity of foods from local sources. Our staff made helpful points about distinctions between the Food Coop’s “sphere of control” and “sphere of influence” as well as pointing out the need for an End and Strategies that could be meaningfully monitored. Further Board discussion revolved around the concepts of resiliency, movement within systems, and what good and useful “development” looks like. We believe the results of all our efforts (as seen above) will direct our organization’s efforts into a future we can all support.

What’s Next?

A3—Internal Capacity is up next. Here is what this section currently says:

Inspire and develop leadership, commitment, and passion within the organization.

Strategies:

  • Cultivate best practices as an employer, including fair wages and benefits and opportunities for professional development.
  • Strengthen internal systems that inspire all staff members to achieve goals and be rewarded for their efforts.
  • Encourage a healthy workplace culture that engenders fun, learning, safety, effective communication, and kindness towards others.
  • Continue to improve the functional efficiency of our workplace.
  • Grow skills and ability of the Management team and Board to:

Govern effectively

Address strategic issues

Lead organizational change

Stop by the alcove in the store Tuesday July 11, between 10 and noon to talk with Board members and share your thoughts on this part of our strategic plan. We’ll discuss revisions at the July Board meeting and, as always, members are welcome to attend. At the end of the year, we’ll revisit all five sections for minor adjustments, then formally adopt our new Strategic Plan—taking The Food Co-op to our 50th Anniversary in 2022!

Keep an eye on this blog and the Board’s board in the store for more opportunities to engage. We hope to see you at a Board meeting—or contact us at coopboard@foodcoop.coop with your input.

We Ate Local: The Food Co-op Annual Meeting

July 6th, 2017 by markb

The Food Co-op Annual Meeting

Eating Local was the focus of our annual meeting this year, held on June 4 at Fort Worden.

We Ate Local

Kristan McCary, director of food services at the fort, really came through for us when we requested that the food be sourced locally. As we all know, in early June local produce can be a bit sparse, but the folks at Fort Worden went to the Saturday Farmers Market and picked up lots of lettuces and veggies to let people put together scrumptious salads, and then they rounded it off with local breads and cheeses. We heard lots of kudos for the food.

Sustainable Connections—Bellingham’s Program to Support Local

Our guest speaker was Sara Southerland, the Food and Farming Program Manager of Sustainable Connections up in Bellingham. Sara spoke about the extensive programs they have to help local producers, farmers, and businesses meet the “triple bottom line”—that is, they help local businesses work not just for profit, but also for people and the planet. We were particularly interested in hearing about their “Food and Farm” program, which includes an “Eat Local First” campaign. In Port Townsend, we do many similar things, but their efforts are both extensive and interconnected .

Sara told us that the Food and Farm program works to grow the market for local food and local farmers by creating connections. She joked that she feels like a matchmaker, connecting farmers and fisherman with restaurants and grocery stores through events like farmer-chef mixers and a Local Food Trade Meeting as well as by partnering farms with chefs, in a sort of “buddy” system. They also supported the formation of a NW Washington Chef’s collective, which has brought together people who are usually competitors, but who found they can learn from each other.

The Food and Farming program also has an educational aspect for business owners and farmers as well as for shoppers. They teach businesses how to differentiate themselves, and for novice farmers, they have a new farmer training program. Sara said that new farmers often start with a passion for agriculture, but they need help with business plans and how to make a profit. Another part of the program is called “Food to Bank,” which provides training and raises money to pay new farmers to provide food to food banks and shelters.

An educational campaign, Eat Local First, is the centerpiece of their efforts to educate shoppers. They began by surveying shoppers to see how people thought of local food as well as the barriers to buying more local products, and discovered two important barriers were a lack of sufficient labelling of local food (in restaurants, for instance) and what to do with local products once you bought them.

To launch the campaign, they asked businesses to take the “local food pledge” to increase by 10% the amount they spend on local food. They then asked their community to try to shift their purchases to local by just 10%, because that figure seemed attainable and not too much to ask. Their mantra became “just one out of ten items in your cart.” Business participants agree the campaign increased sales of local products, but an added benefit was businesses became more willing to work together and co-promote, even when they might seem to be in competition. The business atmosphere become more cooperative!

To promote local food, Sustainable Connections also produces a Food & Farm Finder map and organizes a farm tour as well as an Eat Local Month in September, when restaurants specially feature local food on their menus. They also have Harvest of the Month, when a specific local product is featured in the schools, restaurants, and grocery stores.

All in all, Sara gave us a lot to think about and discuss, and we followed up the next morning with a meeting to bring together people in the community interested in promoting local food to meet Sara and discuss the possibilities for our county. Lots more ideas were thrown into the mix, and we plan to follow up with meetings focused on how to connect and expand the Eat Local efforts in our community.

 

The Business End of the Annual Meeting

In addition to all this eating local, we distributed our annual report, which details how we are doing toward fulfilling the Food Co-op Ends, that is, our long-term goals. The annual report is available at the front desk at the store as well as online here. General Manager Kenna Eaton reviewed 2016, outlining our progress on our five-year strategic plan as well as reviewing our plans for remodeling our store. (For more information, check out the Store Expansion section of this website.)

Kenna also announced that, due to a profitable year, we were able to give some of that profit to our staff in the form a “gainshare” bonus and we will also have a member dividend distribution again this year. The amount distributed will be less than last year, because we will save some to help with our remodel. The distribution rollout will begin June 19 with notices being sent to our members. (Again, more information is available elsewhere on this website.)

 

Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to put on the annual meeting.

We’ll see you all next year!

 

Images from our Annual Meeting

General Manager’s Blog

July 3rd, 2017 by markb

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 want to accomplish, and they are what makes us different from a regular grocery store. The reports are organized by our five Ends, although all the Ends may not be 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.

June 2017 GM Report

Market of Choice

Co+Op Basics—our program that provides a variety of foods at the lowest possible cost to all shoppers—continues to grow in popularity as we add new items to the mix, including frozen organic blueberries, frozen ground turkey, and summer beverages: Lemonade, Recharge, and Aqua Fresca.

Local Food

Following on the heels of our staff “local cultivators” meeting earlier this spring, we have been seeing more demos of local products in the store, more local products showcased at our morning meetings, and more local produce in the hot bar. And this quarter we added two new local vendors:

  • PT Chocolate—Seven flavors of handmade chocolates
  • Lioness Organics—Four powdered herbal beverages

Additionally, we have added over 25 new local items from existing vendors, including Camaraderie Wines and Bell St. Baker, plus a new regional vendor, C & G Wines, which distributes Dragon Head Cider from Vashon Island.

Internal Capacity

Co-op Principle #6 is “Cooperation Amongst Co-ops,” and in May I attended a “peer audit” of one of the newest members of the National Cooperative Grocers (NCG)—SLO natural foods. SLO has been in existence for over 40 years but only recently joined the NCG, our national co-op of food co-ops. This audit—where co-op general managers and other co-op professionals visit a co-op in order to give feedback and advice—was an opportunity for us to get to know one another better, to learn about the store, meet their GM, and hear about their challenges. It was a time to share resources, build relationships, and dig a little deeper into the inner workings of one of our tribe. Hopefully, the feedback we offered was useful—and, as usual, I came away with ideas about what we how we improve our Co-op.

We love it when we can promote our staff into positions of more responsibility, and this month we have two such changes:  Dominic, formerly a float, is now Assistant Team Leader in the grocery department, and Rene, who was a grocery stocker, is now a Wellness clerk. Another change: Ian, our Marketing Manager, resigned, so until we are able to fill that position, I will be acting as marketing manager with the help of the marketing assistant, Mark.

Our big news this month was the visit from the company that awarded Laura Llewellyn “Produce Manager of The Year”! We’ve been so proud of our produce team and the work they’ve accomplished this past year—all led by Laura—that we nominated Laura for the award (actually Marcia, as her manager, did the work). While we know how hard our team works and how awesome our produce department is, we were thrilled that the organizations sponsoring this award, Dole Food Company and United Fresh, agreed with us and selected Laura as one of their 2017 Top 25 Retail Produce Managers in the country.

And by the way, the team that visited our store to give Laura her award and take photos was very impressed with both the produce department and the whole store. In June, Laura and Deb will travel to Chicago to accept the award—and find out if Laura was selected as one of the five grand prize winners (fingers crossed).

Sustainability

The staff green team, “SURF,” has been busy conducting more waste audits as well as teaching their peers about recycling, both at the Co-op and in Jefferson County. Each waste audit is basically a snapshot of what we find in the dumpster that day. We take out every bag, open it up, sort it, weigh it, and then re-bag it all. Super fun—well, mostly. Every so often there is some rather horrible thing in there. While the majority of what goes to the landfill is truly non-recyclable trash, we are interested in monitoring trends. Contaminated paper (non-recyclable in Jeff Co) is holding steady at about 35% by weight, but our plastic has dropped from 27% to 21% of our total waste, due we think, to our new opportunity to collect non-contaminated plastic to recycle into Trex. We’re also adding new signage to the dining room to help customers and staff become better recyclers and pig feeders.

And in case you missed it, we had a great turnout in late April for the beach cleanup, in spite of the funky weather. Over 128 people volunteered to pick up 776 pounds of trash and recyclables from beaches all around the area.

Outreach & Education

We were excited to hear we had won a “Public Health Hero Award” for our ABC Club (a free apple, banana, or carrot for each school-age child of a member-owner while shopping at the Co-op). The award cited us for “contributions in making our community a healthier place to live.”

Sidonie’s cooking classes continue to have a good following, and we’re receiving positive comments from those taking the classes. Sidonie taught “French Farmhouse Cooking” in May and “Culinaria Italy” in June.

The marketing team has been busy preparing materials for board elections, the annual report, and the annual general meeting, which took place in May and early June. And the Product Research Committee (PRC) is still working on developing a system for revisiting existing boycotts and hopes to have a proposal ready for the board soon.

General Manager’s Blog

June 5th, 2017 by markb

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 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.

May 2017 GM Report

Market of Choice

Our marketing team recently updated our Owner’s Manual, a booklet that explains the rights and responsibilities of being a member-owner, given to every new member of the Co-op (plus it can be found on our website www.foodcoop.coop). The revised manual is more user-friendly and welcoming, plus it includes lots of cool information that new members need to know about their community-owned marketplace. Next up, the marketing group is in the process of updating our brochures and other promotional materials, such as our weekly ads, to make sure they reflect current information as well as include a stronger focus on local.

Local Food System

At a recent group meeting, key staff dug deeper into how each of us can become (even) better local cultivators. One immediate result is an even larger presence of locally-produced food and goods in our weekly flyer, sent out electronically to most members and available on paper in the store as well. This group of “local buyers” will meet quarterly to reflect on our successes and look at new opportunities for growing the local food system. And if you haven’t done so yet, check out our website for new videos on two local producers profiled in the spring issue of The Commons: Mystery Bay Farm and Sunrise Coffee.

Internal Capacity

In late April, we said goodbye to Liz Lindstrom, supplements buyer and Co-op staff member for 22 years and welcomed our new Wellness Manager, Kimberly Johnson. With lots of experience in both wellness and food co-ops, Kimberly will be a great addition to our management team and our wellness department.

Sustainability

Beginning in June 2016, we set up a bucket for food waste in the dining room, and we are now sending approximately 25 pounds of dining room scraps and 4 pounds of meat scraps per week to local pigs. This weight will continue to grow as staff and customers get better at feeding the pigs rather than throwing away unusable items such as broken eggs and everyone gets better at remembering to put their scraps in the pig bucket. The work we have done in reducing food waste—including our compost program amongst other work–recently garnered us a “Sustainability Star” award for 2016 from the National Cooperative Grocers.

Outreach & Education

A new cooking video produced by our marketing team will be up on our website soon. The video, featuring Vegetable Jambalaya, shows how to make a entree for six for under $10, using our Co+Op Basics, bulk herbs, and other bulk items as well as highlighting our Jar Savers program.

Meet Board Candidate Lisa Barclay

April 27th, 2017 by Rachel Williams

We asked board candidates to respond to the following questions in their candidate statements: 1) Why would you like to serve on the Board of Directors? 2) What experiences have you had contributing to other successful group efforts? 3) Of the current standing committees, which are Governance, Board Cultivation, Cooperative Connections, and Elections, which are you most interested in serving on, and what skills and experience do you bring to that work? 

Lisa B

I first ran for the board because I was impressed by what a great store we have, truly amazing in such a small town. Then I got to better know our staff, and the next time I ran, I could add to my reasons that I wanted to support such a great staff. Now I’m running for a final time and I can add one more reason—I’ve come to see the importance of cooperatives, as both an alternative form of commerce and a beacon of hope in a world where democracy has taken some hard hits lately.

I’ve enjoyed my four years on the board. I discovered I have a bit of a knack for this kind of work, and I believe I can contribute a little more before I retire. As chair of the Member Engagement Committee, I helped put on the annual meeting the past three years, celebrating our local farmers and cooperatives. This year, Monica (le Roux) and I passed the member engagement torch to a new board crew, and as the newly minted Board Cultivation Committee, we’re concentrating on how to keep the board working at its best. We currently have a hard working and collaborative board, but in co-ops, board members come and go, and board cohesion and cooperative knowledge takes work to maintain.

I’m also on the Governance Committee, which helps keep board work moving smoothly by writing and revising policies and procedures. Finally, I’m on the Product Research Committee, which, as the name suggests, checks out products and their ingredients—for instance, whether or not products might have GMO ingredients. (The PRC is not a board committee, but board members can be on it.) I would love to remain on all three of those committees. In addition, I’m also the board secretary, which means I answer letters to the board as well as help with other writing and editing matters. I’m perhaps most proud of helping to put out last year’s summer issue of The Commons, which focused on our local farmers.

I am an inveterate organizer, a skill I put to use on another board before I joined the Co-op’s. The CEO of a river-rafting company was near retirement but reluctant to let go. In addition, he and the company vice president could not see eye to eye on how the company should be run, to the point that they were no longer speaking. I helped smooth the transition by writing up a plan to transfer power that was fair to both, which they agreed to and which has helped pull the company through.

Serving on the board is a surprising amount of work but also very satisfying, because I feel I’m contributing to a good cause. I’d like to continue for one more term so that I can help ensure that the Coop board functions well not just now but into the future.

Voting in The Food Co-op’s 2017 Board Election will be open from 12:00 noon on Monday May 1st through 9:00pm on Sunday May 14th. For complete election information, including all of the candidate profiles, visit http://foodcoop.coop/about/board-elections/

Meet Board Candidate Julie Brown

April 27th, 2017 by Rachel Williams

We asked board candidates to respond to the following questions in their candidate statements: 1) Why would you like to serve on the Board of Directors? 2) What experiences have you had contributing to other successful group efforts? 3) Of the current standing committees, which are Governance, Board Cultivation, Cooperative Connections, and Elections, which are you most interested in serving on, and what skills and experience do you bring to that work? 

Julie B 1

I would like to serve on the Board of Directors because I very much enjoy shopping at the Co-op and being in the homey atmosphere that it provides. I’m passionate about the strong mission to uphold the health of our community and our greater world. Being an important gathering place with loads of good food and vibrant energy from the local farms and artisans, the Co-op helps foster ties that strengthen the community and sustainable land practices. And I believe this can do wonders in the way of fighting climate change and creating ripples that will influence the way people think about our socio-economic system. Therefore, I would like to play a part in finding creative ways to further strengthen these community bonds, and nourishing our future generation with good quality, accessible food.

My main interest lies in collaborating with local community members to bring more informative and fun activities to the Co-op in order to expand our impact. I also am very passionate about children and education, and would love to bring in more events/ programs that are geared toward youth and their parents, whom are the most influential teachers of our next generation. I currently work at Fort Worden as a Wedding Coordinator and also part-time at Better Living Through Coffee as a manager/barista. Previously, I have worked as an office director in Japan for an English school and have taught classes with mothers and children from the age of 1.5 years old. Through these experiences, I have come to develop teamwork, event planning skills, unique perspectives, and organizational skills. For example, I could picture coordinating something like a small, informal class that is offered for children during a time of the day when it is most convenient for parents to shop. We would base our classes and times off of a survey conducted with our members. And through a program like this, kids could learn about pertinent Co-op topics and parents could shop in peace.

In this way, I am most attracted to the Cooperative Connections committee, and finding new ways to tell the Food Co-op’s story. I am most familiar with Japanese style cuisines, being primarily raised in Japan, and I am intrigued by the ancient ways that pertain to each culture’s cuisine. I would love to organize more events that celebrate food and wisdom of different cultures. My favorite saying in Japanese is “Onko chi shin” which means something like, “keep the traditions simmering in the pan, but also start slicing up some new traditions with your own knowledge.” I try to abide by this rule, and I am excited to learn about new philosophies surrounding food, its power to gather a crowd around the table!

Voting in The Food Co-op’s 2017 Board Election will be open from 12:00 noon on Monday May 1st through 9:00pm on Sunday May 14th. For complete election information, including all of the candidate profiles, visit http://foodcoop.coop/about/board-elections/

Meet Board Candidate Lia Karoura

April 27th, 2017 by Rachel Williams

We asked board candidates to respond to the following questions in their candidate statements: 1) Why would you like to serve on the Board of Directors? 2) What experiences have you had contributing to other successful group efforts? 3) Of the current standing committees, which are Governance, Board Cultivation, Cooperative Connections, and Elections, which are you most interested in serving on, and what skills and experience do you bring to that work? 

Luisa 12_2016I was appointed as an interim Board Member in October. I have enjoyed serving on The Food Co-op Board and working with the Governance Committee and would like to continue on in this capacity. I would also be interested in working with the Cooperative Connections Committee to further member engagement. I believe that the cooperative business structure is a vital social safety net, a great way to practice democratic decision-making, and a necessary bridge between capitalism and equitable socioeconomic systems. As a cooperative, we have the opportunity to redefine the concept of ownership to include shared accountability for a common resource, instead of continuing to shape our lives around acquiring private goods only attainable through personal wealth. Since I am part of a generation in which many of us will likely never be able to purchase a home, I am very excited about the co-op movement. As an elected Board Member, I would work to expand the influence of co-ops in our community, advocating for cooperative housing and more worker co-ops.

Most of my day-to-day life involves some group effort. I share a house, a car, an office space, a fitness center, and most of my meals with other people who are not directly related to me. This has allowed me access to a much higher quality of life than I would have had otherwise. In order to manage these relationships, I’ve worked hard to build my communication skills and learn to listen with empathy. As a part of The Port Townsend CoLab catalyst team I have experience with collaboratively managing and operating a co-working office space as a shared resource. I understand the necessity of building an inclusive culture, developing community norms, and balancing equality with expediency. I first became interested in governance as an elections monitor in Afghanistan, where I had to enforce and evaluate certain aspects of elections law. This experience has proven very beneficial during my interim appointment to The Food Co-op Board.

My primary career is in business development, sales and marketing and I have worked closely with several farms in Jefferson and Kitsap Counties, including Red Dog Farm, Finnriver Farm and Cidery, and Bainbridge Vineyards. I am also interested in the social justice issues surrounding food. I have lived in many places with limited food access; I have been homeless; I have been unable to purchase food, and I have been on food stamps. These experiences have made me very aware of the importance of food access. In Port Townsend we have access to healthy food through many channels, one of them our small farmers. I am very proud to be part of a cooperative that considers food access an important issue and that supports small farms and other organizations working to expand access to healthy food. I am interested in continuing to learn and participate in cooperative governance while working to improve accessibility at our co-op.

Voting in The Food Co-op’s 2017 Board Election will be open from 12:00 noon on Monday May 1st through 9:00pm on Sunday May 14th. For complete election information, including all of the candidate profiles, visit http://foodcoop.coop/about/board-elections/

General Manager’s Blog

April 19th, 2017 by ianc

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 and what we want to accomplish. They are one way in which we are different from a regular grocery store. We thought we would start publishing 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.
  • We will create a vibrant local and regional food system by providing 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.

April 2017 GM Report

Market of Choice

MADay—This year, staff decided to expand our spring Member Appreciation Day to two weeks in order to alleviate overcrowding in the store and parking lot, and the response from members was overwhelmingly positive. Many members appreciated the extra time to plan how to use their 10% discount.

Sales were strong for the entire two weeks, exceeding projections, as were the discount totals. At this time, we do not expect to run another two-week MAD this fall; instead, we plan to try different types of “one day only” deals to help strengthen sales and/or reduce inventory during construction.

Nonmember Surcharge—As of January 1, shoppers are no longer required to be a member to avoid a 10% surcharge when they shop at The Co-op. Interestingly, both new memberships and payments of Capital Investments by existing members have not changed much compared to last year. We appreciate that our community really does understand the value of investing in their locally-owned grocery store to foster wider economic change.

Local Food System

Six years ago, one of my first tasks as a new GM was to work with the board, staff, and members to craft our strategic plan. One item we all easily agreed upon was the need to strengthen the local food system. In fact, it was so important to us we even titled one of our Ends after it, and today it remains key—because we believe that by strengthening the local food shed, we are in turn strengthening the local economy.

To help make progress in that direction, we created a new position—“local cultivator”—responsible for sourcing new products with an emphasis on local and regional products. Brendon O’Shea filled that role for years, and we couldn’t have come as far as we have in growing our local product selection without his invaluable help.

Brendon left his position at the Co-op in mid-March, and he will be missed. However, we’ve decided to leave the position vacant for now in order to try something different. Store managers, buyers, and I are deeply committed to sourcing and selling locally-produced product, so instead of relying on just one person to increase the amount of local and regional products, each department will be involved. To support this work, staff who work directly with local vendors will be meeting with me in the next few weeks to discuss the opportunities and challenges that lay before us as we all work towards being better local cultivators—each sharing in that responsibility to strengthen the local food system and the local economy can prosper. As just one step in this new direction, the entire produce department recently went to tour Midori Farm.

Outreach & Education

This spring we are once again sponsoring the culinary program at Dove House Advocacy Services for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and general crime. The classes focus on growing skills in cooking with whole foods, such as The Co-op sells.

We are also again sponsoring the “Fresh Bucks” and “Gimme 5” programs at the Jefferson County Farmers Markets, where qualifying customers can increase their buying power for certain food items purchased at the weekly markets.

In March, we hosted a Girl Scout troop for a “Cooking with Sidonie” class. The scouts learned to make KuKu, a dish for the Persian New Year. Recipe and instructions for preparing KuKu are included in the spring issue of The Commons.

The Food Co-op will be, for the third year, sponsoring the spring Washington Coast Cleanup Day—scheduled this year for Saturday April 29, from noon to 4 pm. Community members who volunteer to clean up a section of our local beaches may come to The Co-op on that day to sign in and pick up trash bags and gloves. After cleaning, they return to the Coop to have their trash and treasure weighed and measured. These volunteers will receive a $5 coupon good for a treat at The Co-op. Happy Earth day and month to all of us!

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