This October, your Neighboring Food Co-ops are joining co-operatives and credit unions across the United States in celebrating National Co-op Month. For 2022, the National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International (NCBA CLUSA) has identified “Co-ops Build Economic Power” as the theme for the month, celebrating how co-operatives are people working together to build more just, resilient, and inclusive communities and raise awareness of a trusted, proven way to do business. Co-op Month is also an opportunity to leverage our shared cooperative identity in the face of some of the biggest challenges we face: ongoing global pandemic, climate emergency and systemic racism. As we build back an economy that works for everyone, our biggest impact comes from embracing the values and principles that make us truly unique.
Check our newsletter for last year’s story about how your Neighboring Food Co-ops worked together to “Build Back for Impact” . And for ideas on how your co-op can spread the word this year, see below. The NFCA will be sending resources to Member Co-ops to help you celebrate, including our annual Co-op Month Photo Competition!
Below are some ideas on how your food co-op can celebrate Co-op Month and promote the difference that your co-op makes in your community every day. By working together with other co-operatives and credit unions, we can also communicate the impact of our member-driven business model across the food system and economy. However you decide to celebrate, let us know so we can spread the word!
CORE MESSAGING & MATERIALS
- Use the Theme. Every year, NCBA CLUSA chooses a theme to unite co-ops and credit unions in celebrating Co-op Month. Use the theme “Co-ops Build Economic Power” in your promotions and social media communications to help spread the word.
- Tell Your Story. Download our customizable Co-op Month Press Release / Newsletter/ ENews Story for use in your food co-op’s newsletter, website or blog post, or as a press release promoting the shared impact of our food co-ops in the Northeast. Check out these past examples from Member Co-op newsletters:
- Tell Our Story. Share the story of our collective impact and power through our co-op federation, the Neighboring Food Co-op Association. Check out this example from Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op.
- Co-op Month Images. Include the NFCA’s Co-op Month Logo in your co-op’s advertising, newsletters, flyers and other materials during October.
- Organize a Co-op Month Ad in Your Community. Invite other co-ops and credit unions in your community to pitch in on a shared ad in your local newspaper. For an example from the Valley Co-operative Business Association, click HERE.
- Share this video from Co-operative Network — “Co-ops are Everywhere!“ — in your food co-op newsletter or on your website!
- Social Media. Help spread the word about Co-op Month this October by using the hashtag #CoopMonth and #CoopsBuildEconomicPower.
IN THE STORE
- Participate in our Co-op Month Photo Competition with awesome Co-op Swag from some of your favorite co-ops!
- Display the NFCA’s “Go Co-op” Rack Cards. Use the NFCA’s “Go Co-op” rack cards to promote Co-op Month to members and shoppers in your food co-op and at special events. NFCA member co-ops receive a bundle of cards in September in preparation for Co-op Month, or you can request a bundle by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Use “Go Co-op” Shelf Tags to Promote Co-op Products. Use the NFCA’s “Go Co-op” Shelf Talkers (photo above) to promote co-op suppliers in your food co-op. Every September NFCA member co-ops receive printed copies to update their shelves. You can also download templates here to print on pre-perforated channel tag paper: Bulk, Grocery, Refrigerated & Wellness items, and Cheese & Dairy items.
- Co-op Month Buttons for Staff, Board Members and Volunteers doing outreach. We will be mailing a set of buttons to member co-ops in time for Co-op Month. Let us know if you want to request a specific number.
- Co-op Month Sales. Set up an end cap or special Co-op Month Specials on products from co-op suppliers. Visit www.nfca.coop/co-opproducts for a list of co-op suppliers.
- Demo Co-op Products. Spread the word about co-ops by sharing their products with shoppers at your food co-op. Some co-ops in our region that you may want to reach out to include:
- Artisan Beverage Co-op. E-mail email@example.com.
- Cabot Creamery Co-op. Contact Clay Whitney at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Equal Exchange. Contact Andrew Driscoll at email@example.com.
- Organic Valley.
- Invite Other Co-ops to Table at Your Food Co-op or Event. Invite local farmer co-ops, worker co-ops, energy co-ops, credit unions, etc., to share information at a busy shopping day at your food co-op or at a special Co-op Month event. For a map of co-ops in our region, visit www.nfca.coop/co-opeconomy.
- Fundraise for Co-op Development during Co-op Month. Set aside a day, week or the whole month to invite shoppers to round up at the register to raise funds for the Federation of Southern Cooperatives / Land Assistance Fund supporting land retention and co-operative development for Black farmers and their communities in the South, the Cooperative Development Foundation which provides resources for co-operative education, development, and emergency relief, and the Food Co-op Initiative supporting the next wave of food co-ops in our communities!
- Co-op Month Talking Points. Your staff and members are your best ambassadors for your food co-op. Provide them with talking points on Co-op Month and how your food co-ops builds community every day. It could be as simple as:
“Did you know that October is National Co-op Month? We’re celebrating the many ways that our co-op is committed to our community, including [share any special events or promotions that your co-op has planned].”
Or more detailed:
“We’re excited to celebrate how our food co-op is committed to diversity, equity & inclusion — and representing the whole community. Did you know that we’re locally owned by over ____ members, provide good jobs to ____ people, and purchase more than $____ from local producers every year?”
“And we’re not alone! The Neighboring Food Co-op Association includes 40 food co-ops and startups that are locally owned by more than 168,000 people across the Northeast, providing good jobs to 2,450 people, and selling more than $100 million in local products every year or 25% of total sales!”
- Co-op Month Membership Drive. Co-op Month is a great time to build your food co-op or startup membership! Use this opportunity to help potential members understand what makes your co-op different and why they should join.
- Help Your Members Share Your Co-op:
- “Bring a Friend to Your Co-op Day.” Offer some incentive for every member who brings in a friend who has never shopped in their Co-op or who brings in a friend to join, or…
- “Bring Your Co-op to Work Day.” Create basic materials for how members can share about their Co-op at work (in staff meetings, bulletin board) or in community groups (book club, sports, etc.).
IN THE COMMUNITY
- Co-op Month Proclamation. Submitting a local Co-op Month proclamation is a great way to raise awareness of the difference that co-ops make in our communities every day! Download our template “Co-op Month Proclamation” to adapt and submit to your city or town.
- Organize a Co-op Month Event. Work with other co-ops and credit unions in the community to organize a Co-op Month Cookout with information tables, or a Film Showing and discussion forum with a video that includes information on co-ops such as:
- The Visionaries PBS program (2016) celebrates NCBA CLUSA’s 100th anniversary called “In the Spirit of Cooperation,” features different types of co-ops in five locations spanning the U.S., Africa and Southeast Asia. See the trailer here.
- “Food for Change” (2014) is an 82-minute documentary film focusing on food co-ops as a force for dynamic social and economic change in American culture. To arrange a screening or see the study guide here.
- “Shift Change” features Spain’s Mondragón co-ops and worker co-ops here in the US.
- Use the Airwaves. Contact your public access TV station or local radio station for an interview or panel discussion on co-operatives. Example from WHMP’s The Bill Newman Show past 9 years of annual hour-long show during co-op month. List and links HERE.
- Reach Out to Your Local School or Community Organization. Use the New England Farmers Union Curriculum, “Co-operatives: The Business of Teamwork” in education & outreach programs at your co-op, or share it with local schools and community organizations that do educational programs. Curriculum includes content for grades 1 to adult. Download a copy HERE or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on printed copies.
- Start a Co-op Month Book Group for members at your food co-op with titles focused on co-operatives and diversity, equity & inclusion:
- “Collective Courage: A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought & Practice” (2014), by Jessica Gordon Nembhard, is a pathbreaking book on the important role of co-operative economics in African American history.
- “Freedom Farmers: Agricultural Resistance and the Black Freedom Movement” (2018), by Monica M. White, expands the historical narrative of the Black freedom struggle to embrace the work, roles, and contributions of southern Black farmers and the organizations they formed, including co-operatives.
- For more titles on co-ops, visit www.nfca.coop/GO.
ENGAGING DIRECTORS & STAFF
- Roll out a Co-op Education Plan for employees. The more co-op staff know about co-op history, co-op structure and other types of co-ops the better they will be able to understand how co-ops contribute to building an empowering economy and why their co-op is having a positive impact in their community. NFCA has developed a five video series with accompanying questions for reflection for you to use for co-op education. (links and questions will be available by late September 2022)
- Share these presentations from NFCA gatherings with your co-op’s staff, board, and/or members:
- “Building a Co-operative Future: Diverse, Inclusive & Resilient,” Featuring Cornelius Blanding, Executive Director, Federation of Southern Co-operatives / Land Assistance Fund (6th Annual Meeting & Regional Food Co-op Gathering, 2017).
- “From Soil to Sovereignty: Good Food For All,” Featuring Ruth Tyson, Coalitions Coordinator for the Food & Environment program at Union of Concerned Scientists (8th Annual Meeting & Gathering, 2019).
- “Co-ops & the Civil Rights Movement,” Featuring David Thompson, Twin Pines Foundation (2015 Fall Regional Food Co-op Gathering).
- “What is a Co-op? Our Co-op and the Wider Co-operative Movement,” presentation. Email us for a version you can customize or invite NFCA staff to do a presentation: email@example.com.
- Share the NFCA’s statements related to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion:
- Share this National Farmers Union Webinar series on co-operatives. Please visit the NFCA YouTube Channel. Topics include: Introduction to Co-operatives, Growing Cooperative Enterprise, Rochdale & Early Cooperative Movement, The Evolution of the Co-operative Identity, and Credit Unions are Co-ops Too!
Don’t forget to tell us what your co-op is doing to celebrate Co-op Month. Send your ideas and copies of your co-op’s ads, press releases, promotions, and newsletter articles to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can share them with other co-ops in our community.