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

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

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!

Strategic Plan Renewal: Market Relevance

March 24th, 2017 by Rachel Williams

by Owen RoweLight bulb graphic

As previously mentioned on this blog and in The Commons, 2017 is time for The Food Co-op to renew its five-year Strategic Plan. The 2018-2022 Strategic Plan will represent small course corrections, not major shifts. We’ll be making these updates at Board meetings and member-owner events over the course of 2017.

Our Strategic Plan has five Goals, also known as Ends in the policy manual, which govern Co-op decision-making. We recently completed the review and renewal for our first Goal, or End A1. Here’s what we came up with:

A1:      Market Relevance

We will be the marketplace of choice for our community to access local, organic, and non-GMO products.

Strategies:

  • Distinguish our Co-op as the best place to buy healthy food in our community.
  • Provide exceptional customer service and a welcoming, vibrant atmosphere.
  • Help Co-op members access reasonably priced whole foods and basic goods.
  • Cultivate and promote member benefits to retain and attract new members to our Co-op.
  • Evolve our long-term facilities plan.

Overview:

At its core, The Food Co-op exists to provide access to healthy food for member-owners in our community. To deliver on that promise, we need to establish and secure our position in a competitive marketplace, and ensure our continuing relevance to our membership and the community as a whole. All of the choices we make in running our store support this goal. We choose to carry products which are healthy for people, the environment, and our economy and society. Our staff ensures that everyone is welcome, and we work to make shopping at the Co-op accessible both physically and economically. Our planned expansion addresses immediate facilities needs, and we will continue to develop a long-term facilities plan. Finally, as a Co-op, we offer something no other business can match: the opportunity to become a member-owner of the business and participate in shared governance, profit sharing via patronage dividends, and an economic movement ensuring that business benefits people first.

What’s Next?

A2: Food System Development is up next. Here is what this section currently says:

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.

Strategies:

  • Increase diversity and quality of local and regionally produced food available through the Co-op.
  • Support local farmers and producers with information and assistance to meet the growing demand for local products.
  • Collaborate with local partners to:
    • Strategically address gaps in food production, storage, and distribution.
    • Contribute to the development of local and regional food security plans.
    • Raise community awareness and support for local food production.
    • Explore ways to support local wholesale buyers to more easily purchase regional and local products.
  • Expand and strengthen relationships with independent and/or cooperatively owned producers and distributors.

Stop by the alcove in the store Tuesday April 18th, between 2:30 and 3:45pm to talk with Board members and share your thoughts on this part of our strategic plan. We’ll discuss revisions at the May 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.

 

FAQs: Running for the Board

February 28th, 2017 by Rachel Williams

Board members at the June 2016 Board retreat on Whidbey Island.

The Food Co-op board members at a June 2016 retreat on Whidbey Island.

Have you thought about serving on the Board of Directors of your co-op? As a democratically governed cooperative, The Food Co-op is seeking members to run for the board in our upcoming election. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions that might help you decide if this opportunity is a good fit for you.

Our board works hard, has a lot of fun, and as you might imagine, we eat pretty well! Come to our next board meeting Tuesday March 7th, 5:30pm at The Food Co-op Annex (2110 Lawrence Street) to check out what we do and join us for dinner. You can also email boardassistant@foodcoop.coop or call 360-379-5798 to schedule a coffee date with a current board member. Candidate applications for the 2017 election are due Friday March 10th. See below, or http://foodcoop.coop/about/board-elections/ for details.

And now for those Frequently Asked Questions!

What is the Board of Directors and what does it do?

As the representative of our members, The Food Co-op’s Board of Directors is an important link between the members and the Co-op. The Board’s role is a high-level one: We craft long-range strategies that bring the Co-op into alignment with our stated Mission and Principles. The Board uses a management system called Policy Governance. This system is designed to help the Board focus on the larger policy issues of the organization rather than be involved in day-to-day decisions. We work closely with the General Manager, who implements those strategies in the day-to-day operations of the store. Each month, the GM reports on various aspects of those efforts, keeping the Board informed of how we are moving towards the ends we have established.

What does the Board NOT do?

The Board does not involve itself in operational details. We do not make decisions about what we stock, the specifics of personnel issues, or the layout of the store. The Board governs by declaring, through its policies, the results it wants and the actions it wants the General Manager to avoid while achieving those results.

What are the qualities and abilities that are needed for a Board member?

The Board seeks candidates with constructive and creative leadership skills to contribute sound reasoning and judgment to the Board governance process. A good board has a wide variety of interests and experience.  Key attributes are:

  • Integrity—Zero tolerance for unethical behavior.
  • Collaboration—Recognize the difference between productively participating in discussions and counter-productively dominating deliberations through the volume or length of comments. Able to work with other members to create workable compromises.
  • Participation—Speak out and actively participate in Board and committee deliberations.
  • Focus—Make relevant, informed comments focused on the specific aspect of the issue being considered. Able to stay on topic.
  • Strategic Thinking—Able to see the big picture and be future oriented.
  • Commitment—Committed to the success of the Food Co-op and its Mission and Principles.

How much time must I commit?

The Board holds one regular meeting for three to four hours on the first Tuesday of each month. In addition, every board member must join at least one Board committee, which usually meet monthly. Board members are expected to attend occasional retreats and member meetings and are highly encouraged to attend various board leadership and training opportunities. In all, you can expect to devote at least 15 to 20 hours a month to Board service.

Board members are expected to commit for the full term to which they are elected or appointed.

Where are Board meetings held?

The regular Board meeting is held at the Co-op Annex, located at 2110 Lawrence Street, next door to Crossroads Music. Meetings start promptly at 5:30 pm. Committee meetings and retreats may be at other Port Townsend locations. We strongly encourage all candidates to attend at least two of our Board meetings prior to the election.

What compensation is there for serving?

  • Board members receive a $49 food credit every month of Board service. The president receives a monthly $200 cash stipend, and the other officers (Vice President, Secretary & Treasurer) receive a monthly $150 cash stipend. If your compensation exceeds $600 in the year, you will receive an IRS form 1099 to report your compensation.
  • Board members are entitled to special order/bulk order discounts. Currently the discount is “cost +10%” for food, non-food items, and supplements, except for single-order items from UNFI.
  • In addition, you will receive the good feeling of contributing to the success of our democratically run food co-op and you will experience the satisfaction of working with a Board of passionate, skilled leaders.

Why is it important that I attend at least two Board meetings before the Election?

Observing our meetings will clarify and demonstrate the Board’s governance role and will give you a good idea of what you can expect should you serve. You can also dig deeper and read our bylaws, mission and principles, policy register, and strategic plan at http://foodcoop.coop/board-of-directors/.

When will elections be held and how many seats are open?

The annual election is from May 1st through May 14th, 2017. For this election, there are three (3) Board positions available. Two of those positions are for a three-year term. One is for a one year term. Of the three candidates elected, the one with the lowest number of votes will be appointed to the one-year term.

Can I run for the Board if I work for The Food Co-op?

Our bylaws allow for up to one employee of The Food Co-op to serve on the board at any given time. Because there is currently an employee of The Food Co-op serving on the board for a term lasting until 2019, there is not an opportunity for another employee to run for the Board in this election cycle.

OK, I’ve decided to run – now what?

It’s time to complete the candidate application process. You will submit a brief personal statement that addresses a list of questions, and provide a photograph. Download the application form from our website http://foodcoop.coop/about/board-elections/. Email the completed form, along with a current photo of yourself, to boardassistant@foodcoop.coop by 9:00pm Friday March 10th 2017.

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