July / August GM Update: Walking the Walk

I wrote at the beginning of the year that the Co-op model of business was a blueprint for the future. The concept of “planet, principles and people before profit” is a guide for how cooperatives can run a successful business that puts more back into the community and local economy than national chains, while using less resources and creating less waste.

Needless to say, even the cooperative model has been challenged since the pandemic broke out four months ago. We’ve had to change a lot about running a grocery store where, even in a pandemic, thousands of people are stopping in daily.

But we’re not moving away from that cooperative model, because that model will continue to serve our community the best, especially in a time when small businesses and neighbors might be on unsteady financial footing. We are redoubling our efforts to support local producers and businesses, to provide grants and sponsorships for local organizations and community events, and to be a really fantastic place to work, too!

Check out some of the highlights in this edition of the Co-op’s bi-monthly newsletter below.

One example of the way the Co-op comes through for the community: Co-op owners have now donated over $20,000 in patronage dividends to the Ashland Emergency Food Bank. The AEFB has been serving Ashland and the surrounding area for 45 years now, and as some loans and benefits may finish at the end of this month, AEFB will continue to play a critical role in keeping this community fed. AEFB will be the first designee for the Change for Good program throughout July, so please consider rounding up at the register. Read this short interview with AEFB’s executive director, George Kramer, to learn more about this cornerstone of caring in Ashland.

In order to better serve Co-op owners, the Co-op now offers online shopping through our eGrocery program. You can now shop from over 5,000 items for contactless curbside pick-up at the store, or contactless delivery in the Ashland area, thanks to assistance from the Rotary Club of Ashland. (Or if you’re just looking for a quick bite without the wait, you can also use this service to order sandwiches, smoothies, burritos, coffee, and all your other Co-op Kitchen favorites to pick-up in the store.) This is a big first for the Co-op, and we know how helpful this will be for the community in the long term. We would love feedback on your experience shopping online - learn more about how to set up an account and order here. If you're not a Co-op owner yet, you can learn more about the benefits and how to start for as low as $10 here

In other news, Co-op owners voted in record numbers during the spring election. The Board of Directors welcome back Ed Claassen and Julie O’Dwyer for new three year terms. Ed and Julie have been dependable leaders on the board, with Julie recently leading the creation of the new Change for Good register round-up program. The board also welcomes new board member, Mark Gibbs, whose background in corporate finance will serve the Co-op well in this rapidly changing financial landscape. Get to know a little more about the newly elected members here.

I want to finish by saying thank you - because this Co-op is a reflection of YOU. Beyond voting, Co-op owners and shoppers have always been engaged and involved, understanding that the grocery store is much more than just a place to buy food. The money spent at the Co-op does more in the community, supports higher quality jobs, and stays in the local economy longer - and all of that reinforces the strong community you have helped build here.

Navigating the past four months hasn’t been easy, but you have shown love, compassion and care for your fellow shoppers and Co-op staff in ways that prove the Co-op will be a force for good for many decades to come. 

In cooperation,
Emile Amarotico

More Co-op News

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. As of November 11, 2020, face shields will not be permitted unless worn with a mask. 

From the Board: Co-ops Look in the Mirror

By Annie Hoy, Board Secretary and Chair of Owner Engagement Committee

Food Co-ops around the nation proudly display signage saying EVERYONE WELCOME. Or they use the slogan, “Anyone can shop. Anyone can join.” But are food co-ops, and other cooperative businesses, walking the walk? 

November/December GM Update: Overcoming Challenges

It’s probably already cliche to say “it’s been one heck of a year.” There have been challenges a-plenty for all of us, whether we’re working or shopping at the Co-op - but I’m so proud of how all of us have persevered. 

End of year wrap-up on Strategic Energy Management at the Co-op

Hi there. I hope this finds you well. It’s me, Nina Friedman, Strategic Energy Management (SEM) intern for the Ashland Food Co-op. The global and local crises have only devolved into further chaos since we last spoke. As we sit with the reality of coworkers, neighbors, and friends who’ve lost their homes and businesses to the recent fires, and thousands more across the nation losing their loved ones to COVID-19, I imagine many are feeling frozen and powerless to help those that are suffering.

SNAP in the Co-op Kitchen and Thanksgiving

Use your SNAP EBT benefits for all Co-op Kitchen items through November 20th, 2020!

Recognizing the difficulties in food preparation for families who lost their homes in the local wildfires, the State of Oregon has expanded SNAP benefits to be used for hot foods, like made-to-order and hot bar meals from the Co-op Kitchen, through November 20.

And starting on November 16, you can get an early taste of Thanksgiving as the Co-op Kitchen hot bar rolls out the full Thanksgiving spread. 

Black Lives Matter

We acknowledge that the Ashland Food Co-op has not had a culture where all employees and community members felt safe sharing their experiences of discrimination in our store. We apologize for this. We are on a learning journey. We have reached out for help, and are listening to our Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) employees and owners who want to be part of the positive change we seek.

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Vendors & businesses donating to relief efforts

From day one of the Almeda Fires, the Co-op team wanted to help the community. They reached out to vendors across the region and country to ask for their help with products, supplies and food to get to the fire victims.

And that help came through in big ways, getting nutritious food to displaced families, home supplies in high demand, and wellness and food for first responders and firefighters. Thank you for supporting these businesses as thanks for their help in our community's relief efforts.

October news at the Co-op

October is typically Co-op month, to highlight how differently cooperatives do business. But instead of talking about the 7 Cooperative Principles, or the ownership benefits of being part of the Co-op, we only need to look at the past four weeks to see what being a cooperative really means.

As part of the co-op family, you've helped the entire community immensely. 

Support Co-op staff to rebuild

The Ashland Food Co-op is dedicated to helping our community and our staff rebuild after the Almeda Fires in early September. 

For immediate support, the Co-op gave $1,000 to staff who lost their homes in the fires, as well as $250 for food and other household needs for anyone displaced due to a level 3 evacuation order.

We are thankful for the connection that so many of you have to our staff - you depend on us for recommendations, special requests, and quality customer service; and we depend on you for smiles, kindness, and interactions that brighten our day. 

Smoke Safety

There are some straight-forward and helpful ways to look out for your health when smoke is in the Rogue Valley. Here are a few suggestions:

Smoke Safety Tips

10 Things to Do in Ashland (When It's Smoky)

Ashland is a paradise for the outdoors - but sometimes Mother Nature has different plans for us.

When smoke from wildfires becomes an issue, there are still plenty of great activities to enjoy around our wonderful town. Check out this list for some inspiration!

Change for Good in September: Southern Oregon Land Conservancy

For the month of September, Ashland Food Co-op shoppers can round up at the register to support Southern Oregon Land Conservancy. Since 1973, SOLC has been working on multiple fronts to improve land quality and conservation for humans and nature alike. Check out some of the projects below that SOLC has been working on recently. And mark your calendar for Saturday, October 24, as SOLC hosts an Open Lands Day hike and tour on the Rogue River Preserve.

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.

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