5 Reasons to Love Co-ops

By Laura Pfister, Media Coordinator

October is National Co-op Month, so what’s the big deal? Being a co-op is special. Yes, we know we are biased, but being a cooperative enterprise means we do business differently. We don’t have a single owner living on their private island drinking margaritas all day without a care in the world. We are owned and governed by you, our 10,000 members. We share the burden in hard times and share the benefits in the good times. We put people, the planet and our principles before profit.

Co-ops come in more shapes and sizes than just natural food stores. From banks, dairy farms, child care and everything in between, cooperatives are an alternative business model to meet the social and economic needs of the communities they serve.

After hearing that and you don’t already love co-ops, here’s five more reasons why you should.

  1. We are member owned, member governed, and operate for the benefit of our members.
    Cooperatives are democratic organizations that are equally owned and controlled by a group of people. The Ashland Food Co-op is a consumer owned cooperative. Our members are the stakeholders, the shareholders and the governing board.

  1. Your investment in the Co-op is an investment in the community. 
    Because co-ops are democratically owned by community members, co-ops keep money and jobs in their communities. Twenty two percent of our total store sales come from selling local products. Every $1 spent at the Co-op has roughly 3 times the local economic impact as a $1 spent at a non-locally owned business.

  1. Co-ops provide practical solutions to many economic, environmental and social problems.
    In fact, that’s exactly how the Ashland Food Co-op was started. In 1971, a small group of Ashland families joined together to form a food-buying club. Pooling their resources, they purchased food in bulk directly from distributors, saving themselves money and getting direct access to good quality whole foods. In 1972, they opened a small retail store and the rest is history.

  1. Co-ops are part of an international grassroots movement that is growing in size and influence every day.
    There are one billion co-op members globally. In the Rogue Valley, we have several co-ops, including Rogue Credit Union, Grange Co-op, Medford Food Co-op, Siskiyou Sustainable Co-op, Medford Apartments and yours truly. From banking alternatives to farm supplies or housing, each of us fulfills a different need in the community.

  1. Co-ops strive to make our communities and economies more just and equitable, without exploiting people or the planet.
    The Ashland Food Co-op’s mission is to emphasize and source organically grown and ecologically sound products. Ninety nine percent of our produce is organic. Additionally, we plan to be a zero waste facility by 2030. Just last year, we recycled and diverted 81% of our discards from the landfill.

Across the Pacific Northwest, hundreds of co-ops provide goods and services as well as livelihoods for local workers. Each time you shop at AFC, you are part of a movement that believes business is better when it’s in the hands of the people. Go Co-op!

More Co-op News

2018 Board Election Results

The AFC Board of Directors is pleased to announce the results of the 2018 Board Election. There were three excellent candidates running for two Board positions. In total, 905 votes were cast.

Congratulations to the following candidates who will serve three-year terms on the Ashland Food Co-op Board of Directors.

Thank you for voting!

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Beat the Heat

When the heat of summer takes over, it can be hard on our bodies and moods. Don’t let the scorching temps get you down, cool off with one of these refreshing Staff recommendations.
 

Report from the Board of Directors: Strategic Plan Update

By Jeff Golden, External Relations Committee Chair

Ashland Food Co-op is striding into the future with careful intention. We’re especially focused on the three top priorities of our strategic planning process, a collaboration of our board and management team. A quick update:

Riding off into the Sunset

 

By Annie Hoy, Retiring Marketing Manager

Since I was born and raised in far West Texas, I cannot help but use some imagery from what is so familiar to me.

Staff Picks: Summer Hikes and Trail Snacks

Our staff loves to head outside and enjoy the gorgeous Oregon outdoors. Here's a few of their favorite trails and the Co-op snacks they like to take with them.

 

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Be a Zero Waste Hero in Four Easy Steps

By Stephanie Koerella, Education Coordinator

Reducing our waste has continued to be of greater concern for Rogue Valley residents, especially since January, when options for recycling became even more limited. While the Ashland Food Co-op is ramping up our efforts to reduce waste as a business, there is a lot that our community can do at home to help the cause.

Staff Picks: Earth Friendly Products

In celebration of Sustainability Month in April, we asked our Sustainability Committee to share their favorite eco-friendly product.

2018 Kids Summer Camps

We’ve teamed up with Rogue Valley Farm to School to offer three different camps this summer. Each week campers will dive into food production, preparation and exploration, with a mix of farm and kitchen experiences that delight the senses and inspire the soul. Join Rogue Valley Farm to School staff as they cultivate the ability to grow and cook delicious, healthy, seasonal meals. Monday - Wednesday at the Co-op Community Classroom, Thursday & Friday at the Farm at SOU.
 

Update on our Strategic Initiatives

By Ed Claassen, Board President

Your Board and Management Team invested a significant amount of time in 2014 developing a set of strategic initiatives that we believe are vital in shaping the future of our business and furthering our mission. We formed a Strategic Planning Steering Committee consisting of 3 Board members and 3 Management Team members to guide the implementation of these initiatives.

2018 Electronic Coupon Schedule

To further our sustainability efforts and to serve you better, we began offering Electronic Owner Coupons in January 2017 at the register.

No more forgetting to bring your owner coupons. No more waiting for your newsletter to arrive. Cashiers simply ask if you want to use your owner coupons when you check out.

As we enter our second year of Electronic Coupons we wanted to share a couple of friendly reminders and the 2018 month by month schedule.

Please note:

Co+op Basics: High Integrity, Low Price

Looking to stretch your grocery budget? So are we! We've lowered the price on over three hundred items to create a set of high integrity staples for every shopper. Welcome to Co+op Basics.

Co+op Basics includes over 300 pantry and household staples. From beef to milk to cereal, we’ve lowered the margin and price on all those items to make organic, healthy food accessible to every shopper.

Proposals Sought for the 2018 Community Grants

The funding cycle for the 2018 Co-op Community Grants for nonprofit organizations is now open.

Every spring, for more than 20 years, we’ve been donating to area nonprofits through our Community Grant program. We are committed to creating healthy, sustainable communities and this program helps us fulfill that commitment by supporting the amazing work of local nonprofits. The Community Grant program is also the highlight of Cooperative Principle 7, Concern for Community, and is something we take to heart.