International Co-op Day to Focus on Economic Inclusion
On Saturday, July 1st, Neighboring Food Co-ops across the Northeast will join co-ops around the world in celebrating International Co-op Day, joining the United Nations (UN) and the International Co-operative Alliance in a commemoration held annually since 1923. This year, at a time of increasing economic inequality, co-ops and credit unions are highlighting how their businesses can offer a solution by contributing to economic inclusion and building community wealth.
“Co-op Day is an opportunity for co-ops and their members to look at how we contribute to international efforts to address economic inequality,” said Bonnie Hudspeth, Member Programs Manager of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA), a federation of more than 35 food co-ops across the Northeast, locally owned by more than 120,000 people from all walks of life. “When our needs are not being met – whether it’s for things like food, credit, jobs, or insurance – co-ops offer a way for people to meet those needs, together.”
The theme of inclusion builds on the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which seeks to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change over the next fifteen years. As democratic, community-based businesses, co-ops have a unique role to play in these efforts.
Here in our region, food co-ops have been at the forefront of efforts to build a fair, just and sustainable economy. And over the past few years, co-ops have been working together to ensure that healthy food and co-op member-ownership are available to everyone. For example, the NFCA’s Healthy Food Access Program provides tools and strategies for affordability, access to membership, and educational initiatives.
Observed internationally on the first Saturday in July, Co-op Day coincides with Independence Day celebrations here in the United States. Based on the principle of one member one vote, co-ops reflect American ideals of democracy, mutual self-help, and equality. Co-operative businesses have been part of American history from our beginnings and continue to play a key role in building vibrant local communities, creating good, sustainable jobs.
“As we celebrate Independence Day with July 4th parades, barbecues, and rallies, we may also want to consider the connections between economic democracy and a healthy political democracy, and our path as a nation,” noted NFCA Executive Director Erbin Crowell in a recent article for Green Living.
For more information on Co-op Day, visit http://ica.coop/en/media/library/pr-95th-international-co-operative-day.