2020: A vision for the future through Co-ops and local food

As the 2010s come to a close, the “20/20” eyesight analogy couldn’t be more appropriate for the new decade. With our eye on the future, there’s clearly a sense of urgency and awareness of the unique times we’re living in: a changing climate, increases in costs of living, and the shared pressures of a globalized world. 

We face a decision in the coming decade where we prioritize convenience and cost, or community and climate. It’s my hope as General Manager that shopping at the Co-op provides you community through our classrooms and events, as a place to meet and eat with friends, and convivial customer service; and offers hope for our climate, through our local buying practices, and our sustainability and zero waste initiatives. But I also don’t want you to compromise on convenience and cost, because it seems clear that healthy local food and a healthy local economy are intertwined.

Put another way, it’s the way the Co-op has always been run: people, principles, and the planet before profit. And it’s by sticking to this maxim that the cooperative model will continue to thrive in the ‘20s. Shopping at the Co-op is sort of a way to ‘vote with your dollar’ and know that it’s being maximized in our community. Here are a few ways that’s happening:

The planet: We continue to be the most sustainable grocer in Southern Oregon and we’re on pace with our 2030 zero waste goal - now just ten years away. The Co-op’s sustainability coordinator and strategic energy management intern have been working on further reducing energy waste, from simple things like lowering the blinds at night to prevent heat loss, to storewide impacts like lowering the temperature of our water heaters. 

And in 2020, the Co-op joins four other Ashland restaurants for the Rogue To Go reusable take-out container program, set to reduce the amount of take-out waste - a big move for the busiest restaurant in Ashland (yep, the Co-op!). 

One of the biggest greenhouse gas contributors is the factory farming industry, which is why we go to great lengths - but not distances - to get local, grass-fed meats from sustainable producers like Magnolia Farms and Emerald Hills Farms, and to source other meats from responsible and sustainable sources, like Beeler’s Heluka and SmartChicken. Meanwhile we continue to expand our vegan offerings in store and in our kitchen.

Principles: With over $29,000 in grants to non-profits last year, and another $2,450 in donated gift cards, your shopping trips at the Co-op are - in no small part! - helping out the organizations doing important front-line work on food and education in the Valley. Read more about 2019 grant recipients here.

People: We understand that one of the Rogue Valley’s biggest issues is cost of living. To that end, over 70% of our employees earn a living wage and 96% have access to affordable health care. When you shop at the Co-op, you’re supporting over 160 employees and their families who contribute to our community and the local economy. There are a lot fewer than six degrees of separation here in the Rogue Valley - if you don’t already know a Co-op employee, one of your friends probably does!

I’m excited for the sustainable, responsible path that we are on in order to face the challenges of the coming decade. Thank you for being a part of our community and for supporting our efforts to advance it.

In co-operation,
Emile Amarotico 
General Manager


More Co-op News

Chatting about community giving with JPR's "Jefferson Exchange"

Recently, Julie O'Dwyer, Ashland Food Co-op board vice-president, joined a panel of guests on Jefferson Public Radio's "Jefferson Exchange" to discuss how the pandemic has led to an even greater need for community giving and support of local non-profits.

JPR logo

Coronavirus Preparedness at the Co-op

The Ashland Food Co-op acknowledges and shares our community’s concerns about protecting against the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). The safety and health of staff and customers is a top priority for the Co-op. We are taking proactive steps throughout our store to maintain a clean atmosphere to work and shop.

We have consolidated store changes below.

Masks Required for All In-Store Shoppers

To protect the health of Co-op staff and shoppers, all shoppers and other visitors on Ashland Food Co-op property must wear face coverings over mouth and nose except when dining in an approved area.

Those who are unable or choose not to wear a mask are welcome to use our recently launched eGrocery online shopping and curbside pickup service as an alternative to shopping in-store.

Get to know Ashland Emergency Food Bank

The sixth cooperative principle, "Concern for Community," has become even more important since the pandemic began and economies, locally and globally, started to constrict. To address this, the Board of Directors agreed in April to release 100% of patronage dividends and designate Ashland Emergency Food Bank as a donation option for those dividends - resulting in over $20,000 in donations. And with the early launch of Change for Good register round-up, AEFB was a natural choice to receive round-up donations. 

2020 Co-op Election Results

2020 Co-op Election Results

Ashland Food Co-op owners voted for three open seats on the Board of Directors, and for ten non-profit organizations for the Change for Good register round-up program.

Click a name below to read more about that Co-op Board member.

Co-op Owners Step-Up to Support the Ashland Emergency Food Bank!

AFC and AEFB Press Release - Local Strength!

Release Date: 5-26-2020

In April, the Ashland Food Co-op Board of Directors announced to the community that the Co-op would be returning 100% of the 2019 Patronage Dividend to its owners. The 100% Patronage Dividend return to Co-op owners converted to over $628,000.

The Co-op Board felt in this time of great need it was not the right time for the Co-op to put away funds for the future, but rather to support owners fully so they may have more strength to weather these stormy times.

Free Monday Night Lectures - virtual and recorded

Thanks to the many agile and adaptable experts in the Rogue Valley, the much-loved Free Monday Night Lectures live on - even if everything is moving online.

While we miss seeing community members with a joy of learning showing up at the Co-op Classroom, we hope these recordings teach and inspire you. 


Open letter from AFC Board on Coronavirus Policies

The Ashland Food Co-op has played a critical role supporting our community for nearly 50 years by providing healthy food and a safe place to shop. With the recent COVID-19 shutdown, this support has been even more important and has stretched our organization in ways that we could not have anticipated. We have endeavored to address the needs of both our staff and our customers, hopefully in the most cooperative manner.

Owner Voting on 2020 Co-op Board & more

As an owner of the Ashland Food Co-op, you are an important decision-maker in the leadership of the Co-op! A vital part of your ownership is voting for the Board of Directors.

On the ballot: Vote for Board Candidates and Change for Good Organizations

Vote for Board Candidates
This year, four candidates are nominated for three Board positions: each elected Board director will serve a three-year term. The candidates are Ed Claassen, Mark Gibbs, Carolina Livi and Julie O'Dywer.

A dozen local favorites to explore this summer

The Co-op has always had a focus on supporting the strong local scene of growers and producers - and in these times, it's even more important. Here is just a small selection of some of our favorites from the area.  Help support local businesses next time you stop by the Co-op by picking one of these products.