PT Food Co-op

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

General Manager’s Blog

October 12th, 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 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.

October 2017 GM Report

Market of Choice

Sales in our hot bar have been jumping! Last month, in preparation for the new food bar coming in 2018, we added a sneeze guard to our existing hot bar. Now eaters can see how great our food looks without juggling hot, steamy metal lids. Additionally, we replaced one of our aging ovens in the kitchen and this month we’ll be replacing a steamer, both well used pieces of equipment.

Last month we were named “Best Place to Buy Health Food” by the Peninsula Daily News and received finalist awards for groceries, produce, salads, and lunch specials. Thanks for the votes, everyone!

Food System Development

So far this year we’ve sold almost 3 ½ tons of fresh local blueberries, up from 2 tons in 2016.  When Finnriver ran out of berries, we purchased from Hunter’s Moon Farm, a new organic vendor from Whidbey Island specializing in late season varieties. Grocery Manager Laura and SIPS Manager Deb met with Hal (one of the owners, the other being Claire) last winter when he visited the Co-op. In addition to Hunter’s Moon, we have two other new local vendors:  Whidbey Island Natural, which produces organic soaps, salves, and lotions, and Skokomish Ridge, a growers’ cooperative producing locally grown, high quality specialty mushrooms in Mason County. Key City Fish is distributing their mushrooms. We also have 12 new local items and 10 new regional items.   

Building Internal Capacity

We successfully implemented our employee engagement survey and simultaneously launched an upgrade to Timeclock, our system for tracking staff hours, during the second half of September.

Sadly, we accepted the resignation of Kimberly Johnson, our Wellness manager, who is relocating to be closer to her family. Per our normal procedure, the position will be posted internally for Co-op employees before we post it externally.

Sustainability

Hot off the press—The Food Co-op has earned our third EPA GreenChill Partnership award! This year our recognition is once again for Best Emissions Rate (for small/independent partners), but also—for the first time—for Superior Goal Achievement, for reaching our refrigerant emissions goal. Refrigerants used by supermarkets are harmful to the environment when emitted into the atmosphere; some harm the ozone layer and most are very potent greenhouse gases. A typical supermarket leaks about 1,000 pounds of harmful refrigerant gas into the atmosphere every year, whereas the Co-op released just 7.56 pounds of Freon in 2016.

Oddly enough, in September, due to a failed weld in the refrigerant lines we had a Freon leak from one of the produce case compressors (I overheard 15 pounds was leaked but that wasn’t verified). The compressor serves two different cases but fortunately we did not lose any product in either case.

Education, Outreach, and Advocacy

The PRC (Product Research Committee) submitted an article about glyphosate for the October Commons, which will be published October 11 and as usual distributed in the store and in The Leader.  The PRC’s September meeting was spent reviewing aseptic milk, toothpastes, and sunscreen for titanium dioxide and they will be contacting manufacturers who use titanium dioxide for more information. 

Co-op to Co-op News–The new crop of La Riojana olive oil has arrived and for the second year, NCG co-ops have purchased all that is available! This great tasting olive oil is made by a co-op and only available in co-op’s across the country. La Riojana, a co-op in Argentina, is thriving due to the relationship we have built with them. To see them tell their story a video link will be posted on our web site during October—expect to be wowed by the difference we can make by supporting each other. We ordered several more cases than in 2016 because it was so well received, but still don’t expect our stock to last an entire year. 

During September we offered our shoppers the opportunity to “round up” at the register for “Feeding Texas” and pledged to match that amount out of our donations budget. Funds raised will sent directly to this organization. From September 13-20, we raised $1201.37 from our shoppers. Our other promotion focuses on the “Save the Bee” campaign and we will be donating $1 for every pound of Bees Knees Granola we sold during September.

General Manager’s Blog

October 4th, 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 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.

September 2017 GM Report

Market of Choice

Our member open house on the expansion on Tuesday, August 22, was well attended. We got some very positive feedback from members, plus some good suggestions for possible changes to consider. Materials from that meeting are (mostly) available in the store and on our web site. The most challenging item to post is the floor plan as it is still preliminary and keeps evolving. As soon as we settle on some key points, we will post it in the store.

In January we changed our policy to allow everyone to shop at the Co-op with the same pricing. Interestingly, in the past few years our sales to members has been trending upwards and this has continued in spite of the change—from 86.64% in 2014 to 88.10% in the first half of 2017. While we have seen a 25% decrease in the number of new members signing up, which reflects our expectations, the number of active members is slightly increasing, as is the CI (Capital Investments) so far this year.

Food System Development

Shoppers will now be able to see their contributions to the local economy every time they shop. Starting in October, our cash receipts will reflect the amount of dollars spent on local items with each trip through the register. There will be a few limitations:  for instance, produce items can switch from local to organic—or vice versa—within a single day, and it may take our system 24 hours to catch up.

Our Finnriver fresh blueberry sales are up 25% over last year.  We have sold almost 5,000 pounds of their fresh berries so far this year!  And in the last month, we have brought in four new local products, expanding the lines of Bell Street Bakery, Short’s Family Farm, and Propolis Brewing. We also expanded our local Washington products by six items. 

LandWorks Collaborative news:  Ecotrust Forest Management, which owns the protected Chimacum Ridge forest, is working with the Jefferson Land Trust to develop sustainable forest products. Some parcels are being thinned with the wood going to local mills. Essential oils from this local forest are an exciting potential opportunity for the Co-op. Ecotrust is working with a local business to distill and package the essential oils, which we could then sell. However, it’s in the very early stages of development, so I don’t have a timeline to share. 

Building Internal Capacity

We implemented an employee engagement survey during the second half of September. At the same time that we surveyed staff, we trained them in our updated time clock system. In place for five years, the time clock is a great asset, but the software was recently upgraded, requiring a significant change in procedure.

On August 13, we held three staff meetings to share our plans for the expansion and remodel. The staff really appreciated being able to review our plans and they had some good feedback that I have been working on incorporating into the plan. The week after the meetings, I held four “open office” times to enable staff time to dig a little deeper into the proposed changes, to ask questions, and to offer solutions. Thankfully, we are getting closer to settling on how we will do our work in the new space!

Food Co-op Expansion Open House

September 20th, 2017 by markb

by Lisa Barclay

Thanks to all who attended our open house on The Food Co-op’s expansion Tuesday, August 22. Members pored over the draft layout for the store and talked with General Manager Kenna Eaton and board members about the details. We appreciate your thoughtful questions as well as your support.

New Store Layout

Members were particularly interested in the plan to move the dining area to the front of the store. This change will enable us to relocate the Wellness Department to the main body of the store and it will also encourage people to pay for their food before they eat it. In addition, eliminating the deli cash register should help with the congestion around the deli case. We expect that both cashier fast lanes will be open at lunch time, which could make buying your deli purchases actually faster than now. There were some questions about the distance from the deli to the eating area, but such a separation is actually quite common and seems to work smoothly for other stores.

The Bulk Department will move into the current dining room and Wellness will use some of Bulk’s current space as well as the south entrance area, and the south door will be closed, allowing us to utilize all our space while keeping the expansion fairly small. 

The back rooms will be expanded, making them much more usable for storing product and stocking shelves. The staff is pretty happy to be getting a second bathroom, one they don’t have to share with maintenance! And the fish and meat department will move out of their closet-sized work space and out from under the feet of the deli and kitchen staff. Seafood will get its own case, and we’ll be able to offer more local meat, supporting local businesses.

We’ll be digging into the hill behind us a little and building a retaining wall, in order to have enough room for all our recycling, composting, and waste. It should be easier for staff to access and much tidier! But sorry, while we won’t be losing any parking spaces, we won’t be gaining any either. 

Finances

On the financial side, some members asked how much cash we have in the bank to weather any setbacks. We have well over a million dollars in the bank and the projections for this project never have us below twice the industry standard for cash on hand, so we have a wide margin to work with. We’ve been saving and planning for this expansion for years and we are being fiscally conservative. 

We were also asked why we aren’t getting our loan from a credit union, as a fellow cooperative. Our current loan is with Kitsap Bank, so any bank that wanted to loan us money would need to first buy that loan from Kitsap (because of how loan priorities work), which could be a convoluted, expensive prospect. Kitsap is a local, community-oriented bank, and while we haven’t negotiated a loan yet we think that keeping our loan with them will be the most favorable option for us. (In addition, credit unions are set up more for individual customers than for businesses, sort of the way The Food Co-op is mainly for consumers, not businesses.)

Timeline

We had hoped to break ground in November, but these things always take more time than you hope, and we still don’t have a frim fate set yet. We’ll probably start by constructing the new addition, and then we’ll work on the inside of the store, bit by bit. Our contractor has experience in these kinds of remodels, so while there are sure to be disruptions, they should be able to guide us through. And remember, we need you to keep shopping while the construction goes on! We can look at it as an adventure, imagining what is being built behind that plastic sheet or where the bread might be this week.

In the meantime, you can see a drawing of what the Co-op might look like, along with other materials about the expansion, in the dining room and on the website (under expansion updates). The plans are naturally subject to change, but they give us an idea of where we are headed, and it’s fun to look around the store and imagine what it will be like in a year. Thank you for all your support!

Strategic Plan Renewal: Internal Capacity Building

September 11th, 2017 by markb

by Lisa Barclay

This year the board is reviewing and revising our strategic plan to update it for another five years. The plan has five goals, also known as Ends, and these Ends are what help make The Food Co-op different from your usual store. At the July board meeting, we worked on the third End, Internal Capacity Building. Here’s what we came up with: 

New A3 Title: Thriving Workplace

End: An engaged staff and board use their increasing knowledge, skills, and passion to create a thriving workplace.

Strategies:

  • Cultivate best practices as an employer, including fair wages and benefits as well as opportunities for staff and board development.
  • Strengthen internal systems that inspire all staff members to achieve goals and have fun!
  • Encourage a workplace culture that supports our cooperative values.
  • Continue to improve the functional efficiency of our workplace.
  • Equip the management team and board to:
  • Exemplify the cooperative values
  • Govern effectively
  • Lead organizational change
  • Strategically address emerging issues

Overview:

This End reflects our belief that everything starts with people, that to have a good store and a successful cooperative, we must have a workplace where staff, management, and board all thrive.

To review this End, the board consulted with our member-owners and our staff-members. We concluded that the current title did not capture our goal very well, so we changed it to Thriving Workplace. Though thriving workplace is repeated in the End itself, we decided this emphasis is good. We also recognize that the title is not self-explanatory, but most titles are not—they invite exploration rather than explain outright. The End itself is the explanation.

We added passion to the End because we want staff and board members who are passionate about their co-op, and we also thought it nicely reflected the holism of head, hand, and heart. We brainstormed a list of some qualities we thought should be part of a thriving workplace: Positive, open, transparent, healthy and safe, efficient, supportive, inspirational, diverse, accountable, compassionate, and respectful.

The strategies written five years ago have worked well, so we did not change them drastically. We did decide that the cooperative values—one of the qualities that makes us different from corporate stores—should be explicitly mentioned in the strategies, so we added them. We also heard other good ideas for building a thriving workplace that may not have been added as strategies but were noted as ideas to try out.

Many of the rest of the changes were for clarity rather than to modify the strategies themselves. We could not quite agree if fun should be referred to explicitly, but we were all agreed that working at the Co-op should be fun, so we are leaving it in for the time being.

 

General Manager’s Blog

August 24th, 2017 by markb

by Kenna S. Eaton

Each month, the 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.

August 2017 GM Report

Market of Choice

Our deli received recognition from the Jefferson County Health Department for their great work. They received a 2016 Outstanding Achievement Award, “for demonstrating the highest standards of safe food handling during the past year.”

Member dividend update: This year we began distribution in June instead of July as we did last year, so the numbers below compare the first 24 days of the member dividend distribution for each year. All in all, the pattern is similar to last year (our first member dividend distribution), except that fewer members are asking for checks and we’ve had hardly any mistakes to correct.

This year the total dividend to be distributed is $73,083.98, which includes $6,074.94 that was still undistributed from last year—20% of the total dividend declared. Last year the total distributed was $156,160.88, or 50% of the total declared dividend.

  • This year $56,924.05 or 77.9% of total was redeemed in 24 days; last year it was 82.7%.
  • $1,750.83 or 3.08% of dividends redeemed were donated; last year it was 3.17%.
  • We issued $270.75 or 0.48% of total dividends in checks; last year it was 3.35%.

Food System Development

We recently added two new local vendors: Fiddlehead Creamery, who make a nondairy frozen dessert that is super yummy, and Clucks and Quails, who give us local chicken and quail eggs. Altogether we added approximately ten new local products in the last month.

The LandWorks Collaborative did not meet in July. The next meeting includes planning a Pitch Night this fall for local entrepreneurs who complete WSU’s “cultivating success” classes.

“Eat Local First” campaign—I have decided to postpone our efforts to launch an ELF campaign until this winter, when hopefully everyone has a little more capacity to undertake such a massive project.

Building Internal Capacity

Two of our staff—Kimberly Johnson, Wellness Manager, and Morgan Carrico, Grocery Manager—recently attended the National Cooperative Grocers (NCG) Convergence Conference. The keynote speakers addressed global warming: environmentalist and entrepreneur Paul Hawken came with a message of action and hope with “Project Drawdown” (www.drawdown,org), and Lara Dickinson from the Climate Collaborative spoke about NCG’s partnership with this initiative to curb global warming. NCG has made formal commitments through the Climate Collaborative to help reverse climate change by taking action in the areas of agriculture, food waste, and policy. We’re joining other companies throughout the supply chain who are stepping up to make climate commitments.

Environmental Sustainability

We had a coolant pipe crack and leak Freon, which affected the compressor unit that runs the cheese, deli, and Grab & Go cases. The problem was discovered early in the afternoon, and we repaired it quickly. The deli team worked together to move product out of the cases and into the walk-in cooler while the repair was in progress, so we lost no product. However, lost sales for cheese and deli cold items compared to the previous week were $1600. The Freon loss will be measured and reported.

GMO Advocacy Update

It has been two years since we first labelled some products in the store with red dots, indicating that those manufacturers either did not answer our requests for information about potential GMO ingredients in their products, told us they didn’t know, or replied that indeed they do use GMO ingredients. While the signage did not seem to affect sales much, it did allow us to have good conversations with customers who asked questions. The opportunity for education was one of the reasons that the Product Research Committee recommended that products not necessarily be discontinued when we gave them red dots. We have, however, discontinued items when we find a better product.

I did want to share some interesting details about two product lines. Our single “Have a Chip” product has been red dotted for a little less than two years. Sales of this item are down almost 1,000 in quantity when we compare the two years prior to July 1, 2015, with the two years since. Brianna’s dressings have been red dotted for just a few months, but when we look at the year-to-date quantity sold for each dressing in the entire line, they are each down 80 compared to the prior six months.

We are still actively looking for a gluten-free pretzel that is non-GMO verified, but we have found a line of Thai sauces from Oregon, so we might be able to replace Thai Kitchen sauces.

Additionally, the PRC has gathered information about glyphosate over the last several months and is publishing an article in the fall Commons in October. Next they’ll be conducting a product survey in the store to look for products containing titanium dioxide, mainly items such as alternative milks, toothpaste, and sunscreen.

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

 

Header-Digging-In-Post

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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