Fostering Democracy & Equity in Our Communities // NFCA News, June 2019

Your Neighboring Food Co-ops

Locally Owned by More Than

150,000 People Like You!

In this Month’s E-News, check out:

Co-op Statute Passes in CT!

The first update to Connecticut’s Co-op Association Statute in 50 years has been approved unanimously by the General Assembly! 

CT State House, Wikipedia

On June 5th, with just hours to spare in the legislative session, the Connecticut House of Representatives voted unanimously to approve SB 138, “An Act Modernizing the State’s Cooperative Association Statutes,” following on a similar vote by the State Senate. This successful outcome is the result of a multiyear effort coordinated by the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) in collaboration with member co-ops, the New England Farmers Union, and Dorsey & Whitney LLP to address outdated provisions in the current law that have effectively discouraged the formation and operation of co-operative enterprises in the state.

Once signed by the Governor, this legislation is to be implemented later this fall. Special thanks to NFCA members Willimantic Food Co-op and Fiddleheads Food Co-op for their advocacy efforts, and to the co-sponsors of this important bill which will make it easier for people to form and operate member-owned business as we work to build a more just, sustainable, and inclusive economy in the Northeast.

Thanks to CoBank for their support of our Neighboring Food Co-ops

Startup Day Supports Next Gen Food Co-ops

In May, Neighboring Food Co-op Association held the Fourth Annual Startup Food Co-op Day

On May 18, 2019, startup co-op organizers from across the Northeast came together in Keene, NH for the Neighboring Food Co-op Association’s (NFCA) Fourth Annual Startup Day, hosted by Monadnock Food Co-op. Organized with around the theme “P2 Saves the Day: Co-operative Governance for Successful Startups” and organized in collaboration with Food Co-op Initiative, the event brought together 35 representatives from more than 11 startup food co-ops and partner organizations.

“Startup food co-op organizers across the Northeast are working together to create co-operatively owned and controlled grocery stores that build a more inclusive economy and meet their community’s unmet needs,” said Bonnie Hudspeth, who does Co-operative Development for the NFCA. “As a regional co-op of food co-ops, we organize events like the Startup Day to support organizers in coming together for collective learning, networking, and to share the newest innovations in co-op development from their peers and our national startup development partner, Food Co-op Initiative.”

The theme for the day emphasized the importance of startups having strong co-operative governance as their foundation, and how startups can communicate their difference by focusing what makes co-ops unique, including shared internationally recognized principles that guide them. For example, the second principle of Co-operative Identity, Democratic Member Control, reinforces the idea that, “democratic member control is a key differentiating characteristic of co-operatives in comparison to investor or shareholder-owned businesses.” Key to the success of food co-op startups is developing good governance practices early on that will support future success in meeting their members’ and community’s needs.

In addition to networking opportunities, peer dialogues, and organizing updates from startups in attendance, Jacqueline Hannah, Assistant Director of Food Co-op Initiative, presented “The Startup Forecast,” an informative look at the most recent trends in funding, member-ownership growth, failures, and new paths to success for food co-op startups. “The peer learning that happens among these startups is powerful and made possible through the unique strength of NFCA’s support model,” said Hannah. “NFCA’s annual Startup Day is built upon the foundation of the monthly Startup Peer Training calls NFCA offers it’s startup members, continuing the learning throughout the year so what happens in the in-person day continues throughout the year. There’s nothing else like it in the nation and we wish this kind of regional support existed for all startups — it makes all the difference.”

Special guests at the gathering included Kaye Kirsch of Firebrand Cooperative, who brought her experience in startup membership development, marketing, capital campaign organizing, and interim general management to share tips on “Membership Growth & Ongoing Engagement.”

Thanks to our friends at Associated BuyersCabot Creamery Co-operativeCooperative Development FoundationFood Co-op InitiativeFirebrandKapatoes Insurance ServicesMonadnock Food Co-opNational Cooperative Bank and Simply Voting Inc. for supporting the next generation of food co-ops springing up in the Northeast.

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Urban Greens Co-op Grand Opening: June 27th!

Urban Greens Co-op Market will open their doors to the Providence, RI, community on June 27th. Come celebrate!

Since the incorporation of food co-op Urban Greens in 2007, a group of dedicated volunteers have been working to bring a full-service community-owned grocery store to the West Providence area. Their dream: to bring healthy, affordable food and welcome all their neighbors. After 12 years of hard work, setbacks, and challenges, that day is finally here and it’s time to celebrate: the grand opening of Providence’s only member-owned grocery store, Urban Greens Food Co-op, is happening June 27 – 29! Neighboring Food Co-op Association staff have been supporting the organizers of Urban Greens over the last 7 years and we’re so excited to welcome them to the Co-op family as they open their doors later this month!

Enjoy food samples from local vendors, live music, goodie bags, and dozens of special sales throughout the store. All are welcome to stop in and experience their locally-owned, beautiful new grocery store.

Urban Greens Co-op Market is an 8,000-square-foot retail grocery store on the West End of Providence open to all shoppers. Urban Greens is 100% owned by its 1,300 members. While anyone can shop at the co-op, members receive in-store discounts and participate in a democratic voting process. Urban Greens fills a missing link in Rhode Island’s food economy by supporting local farmers and producers year-round; increasing the consistent availability of local, culturally-appropriate produce and products; creating local jobs; and reinvesting the profits locally.

Learn more about Urban Greens Co-op Market:

Fostering Democracy & Equity at the National CCMA Conference

NFCA Staff Join Food Co-op Organizers at National CCMA Conference in Durham, NC

Darnell Adams, Firebrand Co-op & Bonnie Hudspeth, NFCA

The 2019 national CCMA for Consumer Co-ops Conference in Durham, NC was centered around the theme, “Cooperative Tapestry: Fostering Democracy and Equity in Our Communities.”

NFCA staff joined food nearly 350 co-operators and partners from across the country to share ideas, collaborate, and work together to figure out how we can transform our frustrations with the unjust food system into plans for a better one.

Alexis Alexander, GreenStar Co-op Markets, Bonnie Hudspeth, NFCA & Emily Rogers, Co-op Food Stores

NFCA staff member Bonnie Hudspeth lifted up the work our member co-ops are doing around this theme, presenting with partners at Firebrand Co-op, Co-op Food Stores and GreenStar Co-op Markets about “Addressing Implicit Bias: Training Alone Doesn’t Work” and “Tools & Tales for Building More Inclusive Food Co-ops.”

Also during the conference, Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op received the annual award for Co-operative Excellence. NFCA executive director Erbin Crowell noted the role of the co-op in the founding of the organization: “In 2007, a group of food co-op leaders in our region gathered to set out a vision for what might be different if our co-ops worked together to innovate and share those innovations, to educate the public about the co-op difference, and most importantly to engender joy, enthusiasm, and optimism as we work to grow the co-operative economy,” said Crowell. “It’s no accident that this document that continues to guide us was called ‘The Middlebury Manifesto.'”

Under the leadership of General Manager Glenn Lower, who also served as the NFCA’s first Board President, Middlebury hosted the NFCA’s first peer network training, helped foster more inclusive co-ops through development of Healthy Food Access programs, and supported the development of regional and co-op to co-op sourcing initiatives.

Thanks to all the co-operators who played a role in organizing this national conference, creating space for our food co-op community to push ourselves to better include and learn from our whole community.

International Co-ops Day is Coming

The International Day of Co-operatives 2019 (#CoopsDay) is coming up on July 6 and this year’s theme is “CO-OPS 4 DECENT WORK”

On Saturday, July 6th, your Neighboring Food Co-ops will unite with co-ops and credit unions around the world in celebrating International Co-ops Day, joining the International Co-operative Alliance and the United Nations in a commemoration held annually since 1923. This year’s theme, Co-ops 4 Decent Work!, highlights the role of co-operatives as people-centered businesses that are focused on building good, sustainable jobs. According to a recent estimate, co-ops employ or are the main source of income for more than 279 million people around the world — almost 10% of humanity’s total working population.

“Co-operatives help to preserve employment and promote decent work in all sectors of the economy,” says Ariel Guarco, President of the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA). “Through participation, members have a motivation to change their lives, their communities and the world.”

For food co-ops and their members here in the Northeast, good jobs are central to building a more sustainable local food system and an inclusive economy. For example, a study of food co-ops in our region found that the average wage was 18% higher than in other food and beverage stores in the same states. In addition, food co-ops had lower staff turnover (36%) when compared to supermarkets (59%) and more staff employed full-time (62% compared to 43% in supermarkets).

Food co-ops are not only models for more sustainable jobs, but also for employee ownership. In its most recent impact study, the Neighboring Food Co-op Association found that member co-ops employed more than 2,300 people across New England and New York State–and more than 60% of these employees are also co-op members, sharing in the ownership of their local grocery store.

Celebrated internationally on the first Saturday in July, Co-ops Day in the United States coincides with Independence Day, offering a unique opportunity to focus on the democratic values of the co-operative business model. Based on the principle of one member one vote, co-ops reflect American ideals of democracy, self-help, self-responsibility, and social responsibility. And because co-operatives are focused on meeting member needs rather than maximizing profit, they are focused on goals identified by their members, including social, economic and environmental sustainability.

Co-ops are invited to tell their story using social media using the hashtag #CoopsDay.

For more information, please visit

Farm to Freezer: Red, White & Blueberries

Celebrate summer and Independence Day with delicious meals using ingredients from hard working farmers and co-operatives.

By choosing products from co-operative enterprises, you are helping people to help themselves, build stronger, more resilient communities, and strengthen local economies. Your co-op has the ingredients you need for summer salads, desserts, or grilled meals including our frozen fruits and vegetables to keep it local and easy to prepare.

By working together, food co-ops across our region are making regionally grown produce available to our shoppers year ‘round. Look for our Northeast Grown Frozen Fruits and Vegetables in the freezer section. They’re easy to find because they’re packed in a clear package so you can see what’s inside. Help build strong communities and enjoy tasty recipes. Who knew co-op ingredients could have such impact!

Try this recipe using co-operatively sourced ingredients.

Red, White, and Blueberry Crisp



  • 1/2 cup uncooked rolled oats (not quick oats)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground Frontier Natural Products Co-op cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened


  • 8 stalks (4 cups) fresh rhubarb, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 ½ cups frozen NFCA blueberries, defrosted
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon Frontier Natural Products Co-op vanilla


  • Heat oven to 350°F.
  • Combine all topping ingredients except butter in bowl. Mix in butter with pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.
  • Combine rhubarb and blueberries in bowl. Place mixture into ungreased 8- or 9-inch square baking dish. Set aside.
  • Combine sugar and cornstarch in 2-quart saucepan. Add water; mix well. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Continue cooking 1-2 minutes or until mixture is thickened. Stir in vanilla. Pour over fruit.
  • Sprinkle topping over filling. Bake 30-35 minutes or until bubbly and topping is lightly browned. Cool.
  • Serve slightly warm with ice cream or cold with whipped cream.

For more Farm to Freezer information and recipes — including warm weather recipes great for summer special occasions or every-day meals using frozen edamame, corn, peas, or blueberries —


Thanks to New England Farmers Union for their support of our Neighboring Food Co-ops

Co-op Career Development: Enhancing Co-op Business Performance

Ready for growth? Ready to move up into a new leadership position at your Co-op or Credit Union? 

The Neighboring Food Co-op Association is hosting a second Annual training with Professor Daniel Côté of Saint Mary’s University, October 24 – 25, 2019 in Greenfield, MA.

Enhancing Co-operative Business Performance: How to Strengthen Identity, Loyalty and Participation will be an interactive intensive professional development opportunity focused on learning new practices leading thinking in co-operative management coupled with tangible examples of how to translate knowledge into action.

“The Executive Education course gave me a chance to step outside the everyday routine of running a food co-op and learn with other co-operators, including those from other co-op sectors,” said Patty Smith, Operations Manager at the Willimantic Food Co-op (CT). “The focus on renewing our individual co-operative identities to stay relevant in today’s marketplace gave me many ah-ha! moments, and I came back to work with an enhanced view of the big co-op picture, as well as lots of new tactical ideas to improve my co-op’s operations.”

Who should come? Co-op General Managers/CEOs, Senior Managers, Board Members and Staff.

Registration is now open! Get More info & Register:

Organic Valley logo.jpg

Thanks to Organic Valley for their support of our Neighboring Food Co-ops

Farmers Union: Buy American Agriculture Act

Food Co-ops and other organizations can support family farmers by signing on to support the Buy American Agriculture Act.

The New England Farmers Union is inviting food co-ops and Logo.NEFU.jpgother organizations to join them in supporting the Buy American Agriculture Act (H.R. 2712), introduced by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT). The bill fights the corporate takeover of our farm and food markets, protects local and regional food systems, and supports American agriculture. The act would also stop the forced taxpayer subsidization of the most abusive transnational corporations, like JBS and Smithfield, and encourage the USDA to start considering local and regional processors when making purchasing decisions, creating new market opportunities for family farms and food businesses.

“New England Farmers Union applauds Representative DeLauro for standing up for the nation’s family farmers,” said Roger Noonan, President of the New England Farmers Union. “The USDA should not be using funds intended to help America’s family farms to funnel money to transnational corporations.”

Want to sign your org on to support this legislation? Email the Organization for Competitive Markets:

For more information:

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The New England Farmers Union Needs You!

If you care about where your food comes from and want to support the people who produce it, consider joining NEFU as a Friend of the Farmer for just $15. Your membership will help ensure that our region’s producers and consumers are heard by policy makers here at home and in Washington, DC. For more information, please visit

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 the Northeast.

Our Neighborhood Co-op Calendar

See you at the NOFA Summer Conference, August 10-12!

We’re looking forward to seeing you at the NOFA Summer Conference, where the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) will offer a track of workshops on co-ops and their contribution to a more healthy, just & sustainable food system and economy.

Members-owners of NFCA Member Food Co-op receive 20% off conference registration using the code “COOP2019”!

For More Events visit


JUNE 2019

June 27

Urban Greens Co-op Grand Opening!

Providence, RI


JULY 2019

July 6

International Co-ops Day!



Aug 10-12

NOFA Summer Conference, Amherst, MA

Sponsored by the NFCA. If you are a member of an NFCA Member Food Co-op, you can receive 20% off conference registration using the code “COOP2019”!


Aug 15-17, 2019

Federation of Southern Co-operatives 52nd Annual Meeting





Oct 2-4

NCBA CLUSA Co-op Impact Conference


Oct 19

Co-op Cafe in Keene, NH

Co-Hosted by the NFCA


Oct 25-25

Saint Mary’s University Co-op Executive Education Training, Greenfield, MA

Enhancing Business Performance through Co-operative Management Practices

Hosted by the NFCA

The Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) is a co-operative federation of 35 food co-ops and start-up initiatives across New England, working together toward a shared vision of a thriving co-operative economy, rooted in a healthy, just, and sustainable food system and a vibrant community of  co-operative enterprise.