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Food Co-ops: Democratizing Human Health & Food Security

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Food Co-ops: Democratizing Human Health & Food Security

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This presentation was part the Co-op Track at the 2019 NOFA Summer Conference. What is the co-op model and how does it help make healthy, local food and community ownership more available to everyone? This presentation includes stories from co-op leaders about how they are working together to empower people to build more inclusive, healthy, and just food systems and economies.


 - Bonnie Hudspeth, Co-operative Development, Neighboring Food Co-op Association.

- Ruth Garbus, Brattleboro Food Co-op 

- Sarah Kanabay, Outreach and Communications Manager, Franklin Community Co-op.

This presentation was part the Co-op Track at the 2019 NOFA Summer Conference. What is the co-op model and how does it help make healthy, local food and community ownership more available to everyone? This presentation includes stories from co-op leaders about how they are working together to empower people to build more inclusive, healthy, and just food systems and economies.


 - Bonnie Hudspeth, Co-operative Development, Neighboring Food Co-op Association.

- Ruth Garbus, Brattleboro Food Co-op 

- Sarah Kanabay, Outreach and Communications Manager, Franklin Community Co-op.

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Food Co-ops: Democratizing Human Health & Food Security

  1. 1. BONNIE HUDSPETH RUTH GARBUS SARAH KANABAY FOOD CO-OPS: DEMOCRATIZING HUMAN HEALTH & FOOD SECURITY NOFA Summer Conference 2019 NUTRITION MATTERS | SOIL HEALTH BUILDS HUMAN HEALTH August 10, 2019
  2. 2. ¡ Introductions ¡ The Co-op Model: People Over Profit ¡ Building Access to Healthy, Local Food & Business Ownership ¡ Case Studies: §Franklin Community Co-op (MA) §Brattleboro Food Co-op (VT) ¡ Bring It Home ¡ Questions? ¡ Discussion NOFA Summer Conference 2019 1 OVERVIEW
  3. 3. ¡ Bonnie Hudspeth Neighboring Food Co-ops (NE & NY) ¡ Ruth Garbus Brattleboro Food Co-op (VT) ¡ Sarah Kanabay Franklin Community Co-op (MA) NOFA Summer Conference 2019 2 INTRODUCTIONS: WHO WE ARE…
  4. 4. WHAT IS A CO-OP? A co-operative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise. www.ica.coop NOFA Summer Conference 2019 3
  5. 5. ¡A business that is equitably owned and democratically controlled by its members for their common good, the good of the community and to accomplish a shared goal or purpose. ¡Any surplus (or profit) is reinvested in the business or distributed among members in proportion to their USE of the business. NOFA Summer Conference 2019 IN OTHER WORDS, A CO-OP IS… 4New Internationalist, 2004
  6. 6. “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.” International Co-operative Alliance Statement on the Co-operative Identity NOFA Summer Conference 2019 5 CO-OP = VOLUNTARY & OPEN MEMBERSHIP
  7. 7. VALUES BASED & USER FOCUSED NOFA Summer Conference 2019 Co-operatives are based on the values of self-help, self- responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, co- operative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others. www.ica.coop 6 Grand Opening of Urban Greens Co-op Market in Providence, RI, 2019
  8. 8. WHAT’S DIFFERENT ABOUT CO-OPS AS BUSINESSES? INCOME From Members & Other Consumers EXPENSE Achieve Member- Defined Mission & Ends NOFA Summer Conference 2019 A Co-op is designed to meet purposes and ends identified by its Members — the Users of the business who are are transformed through Membership into its Owners. The success of the business depends on Member patronage — their purchase of goods and services. Co-ops must be profitable in order to serve their Members over time. However, expenses are better described as value- added. The goal of the co-op is not to maximize profit for owners or outside investors, but to achieve its mission or ends and operate at cost, with any surplus (income less expenses) reinvested to further advance these goals or refunded to its Members. SURPLUS 7
  9. 9. VALUE-ADDED: ECONOMIC IMPACT INCOME OTHER EXPENSE NOFA Summer Conference 2019 SURPLUS Refunded Reinvested When you shop at a co-op, you are getting more than just good food. You are contributing to a larger mission and impact through your purchases… Local Purchases Organic Purchases Fair Trade & Co-op Purchases Member Discounts Employment, Pay & Benefits Healthy Food & Membership Taxes Community Donations 8
  10. 10. …You’re also: ¡Keeping it Local ¡Supporting Good Jobs ¡Building a More Sustainable Food System ¡Growing an Inclusive Economy NOFA Summer Conference 2019 9 YOU GET MORE THAN GOOD FOOD WHEN YOU SHOP AT YOUR CO-OP…
  11. 11. ¡ Small, Medium & Large Food Co-ops ¡ Mature, New, Startup ¡ Natural Foods & “Hybrid” Stores ¡ Rural & Urban ¡ Varying Demographics Growth Innovation Shared Success NOFA Summer Conference 2019 10 REGIONAL COLLABORATION FOR INNOVATION
  12. 12. ¡ Incorporated 2011 ¡ Secondary Co-op of Co-ops ¡ 35+ Co-ops & Start-Ups ¡ 150,000 Members ¡ 2,340 Employees ¡ $343 Million in Revenue ¡ $93 Million in Sales of Local Products NOFA Summer Conference 2019 11 NEIGHBORING FOOD CO-OP ASSOCIATION (NFCA)
  13. 13. 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% NOFA Summer Conference 2019 12 THE GREAT RECESSION & FOOD INSECURITY Source: “The Role of Food Stamps in the Recession,” Communities & Banking, Fall 2013, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston http://www.bostonfed.org.
  14. 14. Co-op movements through history and time: spring up in response to need [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) NOFA Summer Conference 2019 13 THE CO-OPERATIVE LEGACY: DIVERSITY, INCLUSION & FOOD SECURITY Detail from mural, Federation of Southern Cooperatives Training Center, Epes, AL
  15. 15. ¡ Structure: 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 stock markets ¡ Mobilize stakeholder loyalty ------------------------------------------------------------------ = Leaders in Food Security NOFA Summer Conference 2019 14 WHAT DO CO-OPS OFFER? Hanover Consumer Co-op, NH & VT
  16. 16. § Increase access to healthy food and member-ownership § Support peer to peer collaboration among member co-ops § Raise profile of co-ops as partners for increasing food security NOFA Summer Conference 2019 15 FOOD CO-OPS & HEALTHY FOOD ACCESS
  17. 17. NOFA Summer Conference 2019 16 CO-OPS AS INCUBATORS Co-ops have a long history of supporting local agriculture and responding to community need. ¡ Food co-ops of the 70’s ¡ Identifying gaps in market ¡ First to support small farmer/value added ¡ Investment in supply & co-op formation ¡ Healthy Food Access
  18. 18. NOFA Summer Conference 2019 17 FRANKLIN COMMUNITY CO-OP, MA ¡Access vs. equity: food insecurity that farmers face a producers ¡Partnership with farms ¡Case study: Kitchen garden farm ¡Case study: Local food clinic ¡Case study: Community Share!
  19. 19. NOFA Summer Conference 2019 18 ACCESS vs. EQUITY: WHAT’S RURALITY GOT TO DO WITH IT? ¡Access vs. equity: Who’s food insecure in Franklin County? ¡Why flexible partnerships matter to food producers when those who grow are often food insecure ¡Addressing membership—why you have to move beyond pricing structure in a rural environment ¡Representation matters—addressing diversity across multiple levels, and why language is important!
  20. 20. NOFA Summer Conference 2019 19 HOW ACCESS CAN TURN INTO SUCCESS: KITCHEN GARDEN FARM • From Sunderland, MA • Specialty vegetable growers that have diversified into Value Added products • Winner of the Good Food Award! • Expanding into their own commercial kitchen this year!
  21. 21. NOFA Summer Conference 2019 20 ACCESS IN ACTION: THE LOCAL FOOD CLINIC ¡ The Local Food Clinic in partnership with Just Roots Farm! ¡ It started with a CSA ¡ Partnering with other food organizations ¡ Local Festivals---Meeting folks where they are
  22. 22. NOFA Summer Conference 2019 21 ACCESS IN ACTION: COMMUNITY SHARE PROGRAM ¡ Creating community inclusivity ¡ Breaking down barriers ¡ Meeting needs vs. dictating donations
  23. 23. NOFA Summer Conference 2019 22 BRATTLEBORO FOOD CO-OP, VT (Just to reiterate) We are explicitly guided by our Ends Policies and the Cooperative Principles to invest resources in education and local food sources
  24. 24. In 2018, 2,849 students attended our free classes, either in our Co-op Cooking Classroom or at area schools ¡ Teaching kids and adults about food, healthy eating, cooking, culture ¡ Learning about food insecurity, food and trauma, staying current on community issues ¡ Building connections with kids, people who face food insecurity, elderly, people with cognitive disabilities, and others! NOFA Summer Conference 2019 23 EDUCATION AND OUTREACH AT THE BFC making Polish stuffed cabbages in “Fun Foods From Around the World”
  25. 25. NOFA Summer Conference 2019 24 HARVEST DINNER AT OAK GROVE SCHOOL
  26. 26. ¡ We’re working hard to stay current with issues that our community is facing, like food insecurity § ex: “Working with Food and Trauma” workshop sponsored by the Vermont Foodbank, Groundworks Collaborative, and Food Connects) ¡ This past year, Lizi has expanded her range to include three low income housing developments ¡ Reintroducing participants, with their help, to their own food heritage NOFA Summer Conference 2019 25 LIZI, EDUCATION & OUTREACH COORDINATOR
  27. 27. NOFA Summer Conference 2019 26 REACHING…
  28. 28. ¡ We carry produce from around 25 local farms ¡ We’re different than conventionally owned grocery stores: § Willing to work with smaller farms § No minimums § Direct deliveries when possible NOFA Summer Conference 2019 27 WORKING WITH LOCAL FARMERS Old Athens Farm
  29. 29. “His ultimate goal is to hit two markers… One: Affordable and organic sweet potatoes; Two: Farmers and employees make a livable wage.” ¡ Local farm in Pawlet, VT ¡ Organic sweet potatoes ¡ Switched from distributor to direct delivery ¡ Featured as Producer of the Month Nov ‘17 ¡ As of 2017, we were their largest customer ¡ We support this and many other local farms and vendors who may otherwise not have access to such a large customer base NOFA Summer Conference 2019 28 LAUGHING CHILD FARM
  30. 30. ¡ “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.” NOFA Summer Conference 2019 29 ASSESSING HOW TO MAKE OUR CO-OPS MORE INCLUSIVE Healthy Food Access AuditFranklin Community Co-op, MA
  31. 31. ¡ Peer Dialogues ¡ Peer Audits ¡ 9 New “For For All” Programs Launched in 1 Year ¡ In 2018: ü 13 Programs ü 3,665 Participants ü $645,000+ in Discounts NOFA Summer Conference 2019 30 PROGRESS TO DATE: A NEIGHBORING APPROACH Franklin Community Co-op, MA
  32. 32. ¡Growth in Healthy Food Access programs ¡Growth in healthy, local food purchased à More $ to local farmers ¡Perceptions re: co-ops’ role in food security ¡Seeding national dialogue ¡Progress on diversity & inclusion work NOFA Summer Conference 2019 31 IMPACT & POTENTIAL Putney Food Co-op, VT
  33. 33. ¡Co-op’s Mission, Community Ownership & Business Success à Vehicles for building Inclusive, healthy & just food systems & economies à Model for how to transform other systems ¡Accomplice vs. Ally ¡Access vs. Equity NOFA Summer Conference 2019 32 BRING IT HOME
  34. 34. NOFA Summer Conference 2019 33 QUESTIONS, FEEDBACK & DISCUSSION Bonnie Hudspeth Bonnie@NFCA.coop www.NFCA.coop Ruth Garbus RuthG@brattleborofoodcoop.coop www.brattleborofoodcoop.coop Sarah Kanabay sarah.kanabay@franklincommunity.coop www.franklincommunity.coop

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