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

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.

Unwavering Spirit in a Time of Change

By Emile Amarotico, General Manager

It’s been two months since my last update on our Co-op community, but it could just as well have been two years ago, or from an alternate reality! Needless to say, life at the Co-op has changed, and it hasn’t been easy for employees or shoppers. But despite the challenges, it has been an inspiring and reaffirming time that reminds us why we love the cooperative enterprise.