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.
More Co-op News
Photography by Chelsea Whitney Art
On May 1st, several Southern Oregon businesses came together for a block party to provide a space to gather as a community after a rough spell due to the pandemic and fires. The May Day Block Party was hosted on Main St in Phoenix, where the scent of food trucks mingled with artisan goods such as local cheeses, locally farmed flowers, and even fresh-baked pastries.
May's Change for Good Recipient is
Rogue Valley Farm to School educates children about our food system through hands-on farm and garden programs, and by increasing local foods in school meals.
"We inspire an appreciation of local agriculture that improves the economy and environment of our community and the health of its members."
April's Change for Good Recipient is
Visit Rolling Hills Farm and learn more about owner Dave Belzberg, who the Ashland Food Co-op is so honored to partner with for more than thirty five years.
Visit Magnolia Farms and learn more about owner Elissa Thau, who the Ashland Food Co-op is so honored to partner with for more than twenty years.
Visit the Emerald Hills Ranch and learn more about this fourth generation ranching family that the Ashland Food Co-op is so proud to partner with for more than twenty years.
Katie Falkenberg's photography and filmmaking has taken her all over the world, and lucky for us - she's been calling the Rogue Valley home for a couple years now. Exquisitely and harmoniously capturing the world around her, she is documenting not only through the lens but also through her peaceful and loving spirit. Katie reached out to us in hopes of collaborating after falling in love with the co-op soon after moving here.
March's Change for Good Recipient is
a division of Ashland Parks and Recreation, that encompasses demonstration gardens, a nature playground, and approximately 14 acres of Natural Area that is managed for wildlife preservation and public education.
February's Change for Good Recipient is
Since 2005, Rogue Valley Mentoring (formerly the Rose Circle Mentoring Network) has trained over 500 adults who have mentored over 2,000 youth in our valley; letting young people know that they are not alone. A caring and compassionate ear shows them that they matter, and they they are experts of their own experience.
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.
As coronavirus cases increase in Jackson County, the Co-op is taking extra precautions to protect shoppers and employees.
To ensure social distancing in the store, the number of persons allowed in the store at once has been reduced to 50% capacity. Understandably, this may lead to a short wait outside of the store, but please be assured the line moves quickly.
In order to keep the wait as short as possible, here are a few steps you can take to help out:
By Allan Weisbard L.C.S.W.
Since 1963, autumn has been a difficult time for me. Two months shy of my 13th birthday I lost my younger brother to cancer, then shortly afterwards, President Kennedy was assassinated.
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.