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Breaking down walls and building participation

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Breaking down walls and building participation

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For more than 170 years, food co-ops have worked to achieve the ideals of democracy, empowerment and inclusion—ideals we continue to strive toward today. How can co-ops continue to work to ensure our doors are open to all people, "without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination," in keeping with the 7 Cooperative Principles? This starts by identifying who we’re excluding and then taking action to be more welcoming, recognizing that we are better—and more successful and relevant—when we are more inclusive, when we lift one another up, and when we work together to remove barriers to participation. Join us to explore how the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NCFA) is working with its 35 member food co-ops, startups and partners across New England to address this question through our Food Co-ops & Healthy Food Access work.

During this interactive workshop, IMPACT participants will learn how NCFA’s structure as a federation of food co-ops is supporting innovation and learning among member food co-ops about sourcing, healthy food access, economic inclusion and peer collaboration. Participants will learn techniques and tools to evaluate and improve programs to engage and better serve low-income and marginalized community members and expand co-op membership and participation. You’ll leave with the tools necessary to help differentiate your co-ops in the marketplace and use community feedback to improve your co-op’s image and relevance—particularly among people who don’t see themselves reflected at your store.

Presenters: Erbin Crowell, Executive Director, Neighboring Food Co-op Association & Bonnie Hudspeth, Member Programs Manager, Neighboring Food Co-op Association

For more than 170 years, food co-ops have worked to achieve the ideals of democracy, empowerment and inclusion—ideals we continue to strive toward today. How can co-ops continue to work to ensure our doors are open to all people, "without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination," in keeping with the 7 Cooperative Principles? This starts by identifying who we’re excluding and then taking action to be more welcoming, recognizing that we are better—and more successful and relevant—when we are more inclusive, when we lift one another up, and when we work together to remove barriers to participation. Join us to explore how the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NCFA) is working with its 35 member food co-ops, startups and partners across New England to address this question through our Food Co-ops & Healthy Food Access work.

During this interactive workshop, IMPACT participants will learn how NCFA’s structure as a federation of food co-ops is supporting innovation and learning among member food co-ops about sourcing, healthy food access, economic inclusion and peer collaboration. Participants will learn techniques and tools to evaluate and improve programs to engage and better serve low-income and marginalized community members and expand co-op membership and participation. You’ll leave with the tools necessary to help differentiate your co-ops in the marketplace and use community feedback to improve your co-op’s image and relevance—particularly among people who don’t see themselves reflected at your store.

Presenters: Erbin Crowell, Executive Director, Neighboring Food Co-op Association & Bonnie Hudspeth, Member Programs Manager, Neighboring Food Co-op Association

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Breaking down walls and building participation

  1. 1. BREAKING DOWN WALLS & BUILDING PARTICIPATION Erbin Crowell, Executive Director Bonnie Hudspeth, Member Programs Manager Neighboring Food Co-op Association
  2. 2. Participation: This is Our Moment “The promise of a more inclusive future is within our grasp. We know the cooperative model is the best way to do business, build community and, ultimately, help people take back control of their economic lives and futures. But capturing this moment—perhaps more than anything else—depends on our participation.” Doug O’Brien, President & CEO, NCBA CLUSA Cooperative Business Journal
  3. 3. An Approach to Building Participation •  Participation: Who’s not at the Table? •  Principles: Co-op Identity & History •  Purpose: Mission, Ends, Business Success •  Perceptions: Opportunities & Obstacles •  Partners: Reflection, Perspective •  Peers: Collaboration for Impact •  RePeat: Continuing the Work
  4. 4. Questions of Inclusion & Participation •  Who does not currently see themselves as able to participate? •  To what degree are co-ops obligated to consider this question? •  To what degree is our future success dependent on how we answer this question? •  How can associations help increase our impact on inclusion & participation?
  5. 5. Principles: Voluntary and Open Membership Co-operatives are voluntary organisations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination. ICA Statement on the Co-operative Identity
  6. 6. Principles: Guidance Notes Society has changed since the Co-operative Principles were last re-formulated in 1995. There is a welcome global trend to celebrate human diversity and a growing commitment to the right to equality of treatment for all people. “Without discrimination” in this Principle imposes a duty on co-operatives to rise to the challenge of including all people in membership… ICA Guidance Notes to the Co-operative Principles, 2016
  7. 7. Principles: Guidance Notes In order to be open to all people, co- operatives may need to take positive action to be inclusive. Co-operative membership is in need of constant renewal. ICA Guidance Notes to the Co-operative Principles, 2015
  8. 8. Principles: The 6th Principle in Theory… Co-operatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the co-operative movement by working together through local, national, regional, and international structures.
  9. 9. …and in Practice “Secondary co-operatives, which are co-operatives whose members are primary co-operatives [act] as a place to share knowledge and resources, and to support co- operatives independently and collectively.” ICA Guidance Notes to the Co-operative Principles (2015)
  10. 10. Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) •  Incorporated 2011 •  Secondary Co-op •  35+ Co-ops & Start- Ups •  144,000 Members •  2,300 Employees •  $329 Million in Revenue •  $90 Million in Sales of Local Products
  11. 11. Mission Collaboration for Shared Success •  Small, Medium & Large Food Co-ops •  Old, New, Start-Up •  Natural Foods & “Hybrid” Stores •  Rural & Urban •  Varying Demographics
  12. 12. Vision •  “…to reorient the economy from one primarily dedicated to maximizing individual wealth to one calculated to advance the common good.” The image cannot be displayed. Your computer may not have enough memory to open the image, or the image may have been corrupted. Restart your computer, and then open the file again. If the red x still appears, you may have to delete the image and then insert it again.
  13. 13. The Great Recession & Food Insecurity STATE Population Participating in SNAP 2010 Growth in Participation 2007-2011 CT 10% 55% ME 17% 54% MA 11% 86% NH 8% 88% RI 12% 136% VT 13% 78% Source: “The Role of Food Stamps in the Recession,” Communities & Banking, Fall 2013, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, http://www.bostonfed.org.
  14. 14. Do Co-ops Have a Role? •  Do we have a history to build on? •  What is our co-op advantage? •  What are the obstacles and opportunities? •  Who might be our partners in this work? •  How can we engage our network to increase impact & innovation? Hanover Consumer Co-op, NH & VT
  15. 15. Why Are People Food Insecure? •  Unemployment, underemployment & low wages •  Lack of affordable housing •  High energy costs •  Transportation barriers •  Lack of financial flexibility •  High cost of nutritious food •  Limited time •  Consolidation and relocation of grocery stores •  Limited sources of healthy, affordable food
  16. 16. Who is Affected? •  One emergency to become food insecure •  Some households more likely to struggle: –  Rural Households –  Households with Children –  Households Headed by Single Parents (especially Women) –  Women Living Alone –  Black- and Hispanic-headed Households
  17. 17. Food Insecurity is More than Price •  Affordability •  Quality •  Accessibility •  Community Infrastructure •  Control •  Flexibility •  What else?
  18. 18. What Do Co-ops Offer? •  Community ownership & control •  Focus on meeting needs before profit •  Develop local jobs, leadership skills, wealth •  Aggregate limited resources •  Difficult to move or buy-out •  Separate community wealth from markets •  Mobilize stakeholder loyalty ------------------------------------------------------------------ = Leaders in Food Security
  19. 19. The Co-operative Legacy: Diversity & Inclusion Detail from mural, Federation of Southern Cooperatives Training Center, Epes, AL [There is] a continuous thread of cooperative activity and development among African- Americans over the past two centuries, because of both need and strategy... These co-ops have often been a tool toward the elimination of economic exploitation and the transition to a new economic and social order. Jessica Gordon Nemhard (2015)
  20. 20. The Co-operative Legacy: Food Security “What was the motivation of the Rochdale Pioneers, who codified the values and principles on which the co-operative movement has based since 1844? We know it today as food security.” Dame Pauline Green, Former President, International Co-operative Alliance
  21. 21. Co-operative Solutions •  Mutual Self-Help •  Community Ownership •  Democratic Control •  Purchasing Power as a Tool for Economic Development
  22. 22. Partners & Perspective •  Cooperative Fund of New England •  Hunger Free Vermont •  New England Farmers Union •  Project Bread
  23. 23. Food Co-ops & Healthy Food Access •  Increase access to healthy food and member-ownership •  Support peer to peer collaboration among member co-ops •  Raise profile of co-ops as tools for increasing food security
  24. 24. Why Co-ops Should Care •  Food Co-ops Provide Important Food Access Points •  Opportunity for Differentiation, Sales & Membership Growth •  Place of Food Security within Co-op Mission & Ends Food for All DisplayBrattleboro Food Co-op, VT
  25. 25. Obstacles to Participation •  Perceptions •  Price, Product Mix •  Structures, Systems, Norms, Biases •  Race, Gender, Class, Ethnicity, Culture, Language, Education… •  Others?
  26. 26. Structural Challenges •  Balancing Various Stakeholders / Goals ✔Customers, Employees, Suppliers, Environment, Business Success •  Economies of Scale ✔Economic Competition against Big Boxes •  Barriers to Entry ✔Limited Capacity of individual co-ops
  27. 27. Framework for HFA Programs 1.  Collaboration w/ Partner Organizations 2.  Educational Opportunity 3.  Product Affordability 4.  Accessible Membership Options 5.  Inclusive Marketing 6.  Infrastructure Portland Food Co-op, ME
  28. 28. Progress to Date Resource development: •  Timeline •  Financial planning •  Toolbox •  Peer Collaboration •  New Partners •  Structure Doc •  Sharing our story Community Outreach atGreenStar Co-op Markets, Ithaca, NY
  29. 29. Progress to Date •  Peer Dialogues •  A Neighboring Approach •  Audits •  Student Interns •  9 new programs launched in 1 year Franklin Community Co-op, MA
  30. 30. Peers: Gathering Dialogues •  Food Security •  Role of Co-ops in the Civil Rights Movement & Communities of Color •  Co-ops & the Inclusive Economy •  Peer Exchanges on Effective Strategies for Diversity & Inclusion
  31. 31. Peers: Neighboring Approach… •  Brattleboro Food Co-op •  Putney Food Co-op •  Monadnock Food Co-op Putney Food Co-op, VT Monadnock Food Co-op, NHBrattleboro Food Co-op, VT
  32. 32. Peers: Assessing Inclusion & Barriers: Audits/Partner Feedback •  “Co-op has measures in place to make member- ownership more accessible” •  “There are healthy international foods representing the different cultures/ethnic groups in your community” •  “HFA signage and marketing materials use accessible language (6th Grade reading level) and are translated into other languages.” Healthy Food Access AuditFranklin Community Co-op, MA
  33. 33. Perception: Challenges & Responses Challenges: •  Reaching prospective members (not just shoppers) •  Pricing •  Perception re: co-ops as expensive •  Time/Cost of designing and implementing affordability programs Responses: •  Partnering •  Basics, discounts, bulk, education re: cooking. •  Education re: variety & value •  Sharing resources among co-ops
  34. 34. Impact •  Growth in HFA programs •  Growth in Membership •  Perceptions re: Co-op Role in Food Security •  Seeding National Dialogue •  Deeper Engagement on Diversity & Inclusion Putney Food Co-op, VT
  35. 35. An Approach to Building Participation •  Participation: Who’s not at the Table? •  Principles: Co-op Identity & History •  Purpose: Mission, Ends, Business Success •  Perceptions: Opportunities & Obstacles •  Partners: Reflection, Perspective •  Peers: Collaboration for Impact •  RePeat: Continuing the Work
  36. 36. Questions, Feedback & Discussion Erbin Crowell Erbin@NFCA.coop www.NFCA.coop Bonnie Hudspeth Bonnie@NFCA.coop www.NFCA.coop

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