E-News // Co-ops & Healthy Food Access // August 2015

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Get ready, Co-operators: Co-op Month is coming!

Every October, co-operatives and their members across the country celebrate Co-op Month. It is an opportunity to celebrate how co-operatives empower people and contribute to a more just, sustainable, and participatory economy.  And by working together, our co-ops can communicate the impact of our business model for communities across our region and around the world.

The Neighboring Food Co-op Association’s “Go Co-op” initiative offers resources for co-ops and their members to educate, celebrate, and spread the word. One simple tool is shelf tags such as the one at right that member food co-ops can use to indicate products made by supplier co-ops in our local communities and around the world. Look for them at your Neighboring Food Co-op — You may be surprised by the number of “Co-op Made” products you’ll find at your local food co-op, including Artisan Beverage Co-op, Cabot Creamery Co-op, Deep Root Organic Co-op, Equal Exchange, Organic Valley and Real Pickles. For a longer list of co-op suppliers, please visit www.nfca.coop/co-opproducts.  (If your co-op needs updated “Go Co-op” shelf tags, please email us: info@nfca.coop)

The “Go Co-op” logo incorporates the Co-op Marque developed by the International Co-operative Alliance to help co-ops around the world increase awareness, promote the Co-operative Identity, and differentiate co-ops from other business models. The NFCA’s initiative recently received international recognition from Domains.coop for our efforts to educate shoppers about the wider co-operative economy. By promoting our common co-operative identity, our co-ops are demonstrating our shared impact in building a more just, sustainable and participatory food system and economy.

As we get closer to October, the NFCA will be adding content on this year’s theme for celebrations taking place across the country. To get started on your planning for Co-op Month, check out the resources and a list of ideas on how you can celebrate co-operation during October and throughout the year: https://nfca.coop/go



On the morning of August 5th, co-operators gathered outside the doors of Franklin Community Co-op’s Greenfield Market with clipboards in hand.  This group, made up of staff and member-owners of Franklin Community Co-op and Neighboring Food Co-op Association and Project Bread staff, gathered to perform a “Healthy Food Access” Audit of the co-op.  This audit was designed as part of the Food Co-ops & Healthy Food Access project.

The Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) and the Cooperative Fund of New England created the Food Co-ops and Healthy Food Access Project to support neighboring food co-ops to make healthy food and co-op ownership more accessible to all community members. With project partners including Hunger Free Vermont and New England Farmers Union, organizers created resources to help NFCA member food co-ops plan and implement successful Healthy Food Access programs making healthy food and co-op membership more affordable and accessible for low-income community members.

Last year, at the request of neighboring food co-ops, partners worked to create Healthy Food Access audit forms so that food co-ops can evaluate and improve the healthy food access programs in place at their co-op, and help to make co-ops more welcoming to the whole community.

“I’m thankful for having the support from Neighboring Food Co-op Association and support organizations for creating the evaluation tools and prioritizing supporting our co-ops in their healthy food access endeavors,” said Franklin Community Co-op’s Marketing & Membership Manager Suzette Snow-Cobb, who helped to organize the audit at her store. “I’m looking forward to reviewing the audit team’s comments and sharing with other staff, management, and member-owners as we strive to make our co-op more accessible.”

Snow-Cobb added: “I think the process of having the audit was valuable to co-op staff that the healthy food access audit team interacted with as well.”

“Food co-ops have been pioneers in strengthening food security,” said Bonnie Hudspeth, Membership and Outreach Manager for the NFCA. “Here in our region, we are lucky to have innovative food co-ops like Franklin Community Co-op that are working with community partners to ensure that everyone has access to healthy food and co-operative ownership.”

Check out photos of the HFA Audit team and some of Franklin Community Co-op’s healthy food access programs in store: http://s.coop/hfaauditfranklincoop2015



Neighboring Food Co-op Association member Monadnock Food Co-op in Keene, NH received the first “Local Food Champion” Award from Monadnock Menus, a local food delivery service launched by the Cheshire County Conservation District.  Monadnock Menus provides schools and other institutions throughout Cheshire County (NH) with easy access to foods grown and produced in the Monadnock region. The Monadnock Food Co-op, a co-operatively owned grocery story that opened in 2013, shares Monadnock Menu’s primary goals of supporting market development for local food producers and increased access and affordability of local food for food buyers in the region.

Over the past year, the Co-op has purchased from nine local food producers through this service, representing over one third of all Monadnock Menus’ sales. “By purchasing these and other local products, Co-op shoppers are supporting Monadnock Menus’ efforts to scale up and deliver fresh, local, affordable food to all the schools in the Monadnock Region.  This ‘anchor-tenant’ relationship has allowed Monadnock Menus to grow to reach twenty-four other buyers, who purchase products from twenty-eight local food producers.”

The developing business model of Monadnock Menus depends on increasing consistent sales throughout the year and, as fresh produce dwindles, winter sales are critical. “The Co-op is a key partner during this lull by purchasing dairy and frozen organic produce for its soups, quesadillas and other popular items in the prepared foods department.”

Read the full article here:




During his recent visit to Kenya, President Obama highlighted National Co-operative Business Association (NCBA) CLUSA’s Yes Youth Can program as example of success in Kenya.

With more than 1 million members, Yes Youth Can has become one of the most prominent civil society organizations in Kenya. The program is funded by USAID and implemented in Nairobi and Kenya’s Coast region by NCBA CLUSA. Other development partners are now implementing the program in other regions of Kenya.

Yes Youth Can participants are entrepreneurs and leaders, developing local “bunges,” or youth parliaments, that empower young people to participate in the political processes and develop entrepreneurial skills. To improve their livelihoods, these youth groups have developed credit unions, encouraged ID card registration for voting, and developed small businesses.

“‘That’s the kind of young leadership we need,’ Obama said to an audience that was more than three quarters youth.”

Read more here:




Have you noticed the “Cave to Co-op” signs in the cheese section of your neighboring food co-op? Augusts’ “Cave to Co-op” special artisan cheese is “Willoughby” from Jasper Hill Farm in Greensboro, VT.

This succulent and buttery washed-rind cheese has a strong and complex front for the subtle milky, herbal, ripe-peach flavors.  During the heat of August, pair Willoughby with Juicy rose, funky saison beer or raw floral honey.  For more info, visit: https://nfca.coop/CaveToCo-opAugust2015

Cave to Co-op is a partnership between Provisions International and the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) to support local, artisanal cheese producers in our region and make their products more easily available to co-op shoppers. For more information on the program, please visit www.nfca.coop/CaveToCo-op.



Over the past 18 months, New England Farmers Union Education Foundation, in partnership with affiliate member the Neighboring Food Co-op Association, worked with the Co-operative Fund of New England and Hunger Free Vermont on a project called Food Co-ops & Healthy Food Access. The project supports Neighboring Food Co-ops in making healthy food and co-op ownership more accessible to all community members.

One of the core Healthy Food Access initiatives is the “Food For All” Program. The goal of this program is to make fresh, healthy, and local food affordable for everyone, regardless of income, by offering a 10% discount on grocery purchases to members with limited incomes. In the last year alone, project partners worked to support six food co-ops to implement new Food For All needs-based discount programs, offering community members with limited income access to co-op member-ownership and discounts on their groceries every time they shop.

This initiative uses direct technical assistance, resource development, and coordination with member food co-ops and organizational partners to share the work co-ops have accomplished, and raise the profile of food co-ops as a solution to food insecurity. To date, trainings have been provided to 427 individuals from 35 co-ops on how to implement successful Healthy Food Access, including direct technical assistance to three member co-ops on how to implement new Healthy Food Access programs.

Beyond working on food accessibility, Farmers Union helps co-ops achieve their mission of supporting the local food system by developing and strengthening markets for local farmers and producers. Farmers Union is grateful for this collaboration with food co-ops and their partners throughout the region.

Thanks to the Sandy River Charitable Foundation and Jane’s Trust for supporting this work.

The Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) is an affiliate member of the New England Farmers Union (NEFU), representing our commitment to collaboration among consumers and our region’s family farmers and fishermen to influence food system policy and build a more vibrant, resilient and co-operative food system in New England. NFCA Executive Director Erbin Crowell serves as Vice President of NEFU, and many of our Neighboring Food Co-ops are organizational members.  For more information on our partnership and how you can become a member, please visit: www.newenglandfarmersunion.org/co-operation.



October: National Co-op Month!

Visit www.nfca.coop/go for resources for planning your celebrations!

Oct 18 – 21, 2015: “Co-operative Management Practices to Strengthen Identity, Loyalty, and Overall Business Performance”

The course takes place from Sunday October 18th to Wednesday October 21st at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. It focuses on leading thinking in co-operative management and pairing those learnings with tangible examples using open dialogue and case study work. There will also be guest presenters providing sector specific expertise creating a very well rounded few days. Further details are included in the link below and I’ve attached a brochure with this email that explains each day of the course in more detail:


Oct 24, 2015: Neighboring Food Co-op Association Fall Member Gathering

Member co-ops of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA): Save the date for our annual Fall Gathering, including workshops, presentations and peer to peer networking opportunities. For more information, e-mail: info@nfca.coop.

Oct 31 – Nov 1, 2015: North American Students of Co-operation Annual Institute

Common Interest: Co-ops Investing in Community Wealth. Since 1977, NASCO’s Cooperative Education & Training Institute has been widely recognized as one of the most important training and networking opportunities available to members, directors, staff and managers of group-equity cooperatives. The annual NASCO Institute is always a one-of-a-kind opportunity to network with hundreds of cooperative leaders and employers, to caucus about pressing issues, and to work on building an inclusive and accessible cooperative movement.


Nov 6-8, 2015: New England Farmers Union Annual Meeting, Concord, NH


 Nov 11-15, 2015: Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (NESAWG)


Neighboring Food Co-op Association
PO Box 93, Shelburne Falls, MA 01370
email: info@nfca.coop
website: www.nfca.coop
facebook: http://www.facebook.com/neighboring