Concern for Community // NFCA News, March 2020

Your Neighboring Food Co-ops

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In this Month’s E-News, check out:

COVID-19 & Concern for Community

The impacts of Coronavirus, or COVID-19, are likely to be felt for some time.  But by working together and taking basic precautions, we can care for one another and limit its spread.  

Concern for community is at the heart of the co-operative movement, and your local food co-ops have been working hard to address the public health challenges by this virus while continuing to provide our communities with safe, healthy food and trusted information on how to deal with the situation.

In response to concerns about COVID-19, the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) decided a couple of weeks ago to postpone our Annual Meeting and began working with our partners at NCBA CLUSA and the Cooperative Development Foundation to move our New England Cooperative Policy Roundtable to an online platform, taking place on Friday, March 20.  In taking these actions, our intent was to do our part in preventing the spread of this virus and not putting people in the difficult position of choosing between attending these events and supporting their own health and the health of their families and communities.

We also set up a listserve for our member food co-ops to network with one another and share strategies on everything from supporting employee health and well-being to curbside delivery programs, managing inventory to DIY recipes for hand sanitizer, and special shopping hours for at-risk customers to supporting local food banks.  While they are committed to keeping products on the shelves, this has not been easy due to both demand and disruptions in distribution.  As community hubs, food co-ops must also strike an often difficult balance between serving as gathering places and supporting effective public health strategies such as social distancing.

We particularly want to thank the staff of our food co-ops for their commitment, and members and shoppers who are mindful of their own needs as well those of other people in their communities.  We encourage you to regularly visit the website of your food co-op for information on any updates to their hours of operation, product availability, and other services — and ways that you can help.

The challenges presented by the international nature of this pandemic are serious, particularly for those most at risk in our communities, and the impacts of this virus are likely to be felt for months.  The stress and anxiety that many of us are feeling is real.  At the same time, United Nations General Secretary António Guterres has reminded us that “the spread of the virus will peak and our economies will recover.  And until then, we must act together to slow the spread of the virus and look after each other.”

“This is a time for prudence, not panic,” he continued.  “Science, not stigma.  Facts, not fear.”  The World Health Organization recommends some basic precautions for supporting community health:

  • Wash your hands with soap frequently,
  • Maintain social distancing,
  • Cover your mouth with a disposable tissue when you cough or sneeze and throw it away afterward,
  • Stay home if you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, and
  • Seek medical attention as soon as you feel symptoms.

In addition to your state department of health, we recommend trusted on-line resources for more information on COVID-19 and precautions that you can take:

As Mr. Guterres points out, a pandemic such as this reminds us of the essential interconnectedness of our human family and our responsibility for one another.  Stay healthy and safe, and know that solidarity and caring for one another is key to building more resilient, sustainable, and just communities.   We will get through this time, together

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

NFCA Receives “Cooperative Champion Award”

The Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) was awarded the “Cooperative Champion Award” at the 2020 national Up & Coming Food Co-op Conference.

The NFCA was honored to be acknowledged as a “Champion for Startup Food Co-ops” at the national Up & Coming Food Co-op Conference in Madison, WI earlier this month. Nearly 300 organizers from food co-ops and co-op support organizations across the country attended the conference organized by Indiana Cooperative Development Center and Food Co-op Initiative, making it the biggest one yet.

“Your forward-thinking investment in supporting startups in your region, hosting an annual regional startup training day, innovating startup peer calls, and maintaining a staff that demonstrates excellence in providing TA to startup food co-ops is well worth the honor,” said Jacqueline Hannah, Assistant Director of Food Co-op Initiative and one of the lead conference organizers.

“On behalf of our 40 established and startup food co-ops across the Northeast, we are honored to receive the Cooperative Champion Award,” said Bonnie Hudspeth, who leads startup development work for the NFCA. “Our innovation comes from our member co-ops pooling their resources, knowledge, and experience for shared growth and success through our regional co-op of food co-ops. We wouldn’t be able to do the work we do with without the forward-thinking investment by long-established food co-ops in our region in the next wave of food co-ops.”

NFCA’s association structure allows us to be accountable to our food co-op members, including supporting peer learning and innovation among our startups. This model also enables us to partner with organizations like the Indiana Co-op Development Center to help bring co-ops together, to collaborate with leaders at Food Co-op Initiative to offer technical assistance on the ground so we can best support communities launching new co-ops to meet their unmet needs, and to work with other partners such as NCG to grow our food co-ops, together. Here’s to supporting and growing the next generation of co-ops!

Slash Your Trash

The food co-op members of Neighboring have come together for a “Slash Your Trash” Challenge to support their co-op members & shoppers to reduce waste and work toward sustainability and climate justice. 

Are you a “bulk boss” or a “reusable all-star”…or do you want to be? Act Now for climate justice! Join members of food co-ops across the Northeast in pledging to reduce waste and Slash Your Trash during the Month of April — the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day in the U.S.!

Did you know that the 267.8 million tons of waste generated in the US in 2017 was primarily made up of plastics, paper, paperboard, and food? As individuals we can take basic steps to reduce our waste. And working together as a community we can have a big impact!

Join your local Food Co-op and co-op members across our region to Slash Your Trash! It’s easily done:

  • Pledge to take at least one of the actions below to Slash Your Trash.
  • Share Your Experience! Use “#SlashYourTrash” and “#ActNow” and tag your local food co-op in social media posts letting friends know what you are doing.
  • Visit the United Nations #ActNow Webpage and let them know about the actions you are taking on Climate Change:

Find out more:

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Farm to Freezer: Comfort Foods

Comfort Foods from Regional Farms

Preparing and sharing comforting foods in stressful times is a way to feed your soul as well as your nutritional needs. A variety of foods appeal to people as comfort foods, though generally across cultures, soups tend to invoke a nostalgic or sentimental value, characteristics inherent in a comfort food. Taking time to shop at your co-op for the ingredients you need to create your comfort foods, including Neighboring Food Co-op Association Frozen Fruits and Vegetables, contributes to your health as well as to the health of our community and family farms.

Want to try a comforting soup using ingredients available at your co-op? Try this Creamy Kale and Pea Soup using Farm to Freezer Green Peas.

Your local food co-op works hard to offer products that strengthen local economies, support sustainable agriculture, and grow community ownership. Our frozen Blueberries, Organic Edamame, Green Peas and non-GMO Sweet Corn are all produced, picked, processed, and packed right here in the Northeast.

Our co-ops have sold over 2 tons of frozen fruits and vegetables through the Farm to Freezer program last year, that’s one of the ways our co-ops work together to bring you the fresh, quality food all year long.

For more Farm to Freezer information and recipes-including comfort foods-visit:

March’s Cave to Co-op Cheese Special

Inspiration, Mt. Mansfield Creamery, Morrisville, Vermont

“Inspiration” is a raw cow-milk cheese made by cheesemakers Stan Biasini and Debora Wickart at Mt. Mansfield Creamery. This season’s batch was washed with von Trapp Brewing Trösten Lager for a fine, edible rind. Trösten translates as ‘comforting’ and its rich chestnut toasty notes and smoky and malty but light finish is a perfect complement to this rustic cheese.

With the creamery four miles from the farm, Stan transports their milk to the creamery on cheese making days. Debora milks the cows and ships to St. Albans Cooperative on the other days. They make small batches of cheese only 8 to 12 times per month and increasing production according to demand. They milk registered Holsteins and Brown Swiss cows that are on rotational grazing in the summer months and fed grain and hay during the winter.

Mt. Mansfield Creamery started in June of 2009 and they make cheese year around. Debora milks about 30 cows per day and receives awards for the quality of milk she produces. Stan, a graduate of Paul Smith’s College, has put his chef days behind him to concentrate on their recipes for cheese.

The cheese facility is in the heart of Morrisville, in the old United Farmers Creamery building. Not only did they renovate the building, but built their own cheese cave in the basement. They wash and brush the rinds to keep them thin to ensure that their product is one hundred percent edible.

Cave to Co-op is a partnership between Provisions International and the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) to support artisanal cheese producers in our region and make their products more easily available to co-op shoppers. Each month, a delicious local cheese is featured at a great price.

For more information on Cave to Co-op,

New England Farmers Union at the National Convention 

New England Farmers Union brought a focus on co-operative policy to the 118th-anniversary convention of the National Farmers Union.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) 118th Anniversary Convention was held in Savannah, Georgia earlier this month. Delegates to the convention adopted the NFU Policy Book and six special orders of business that will guide the organization’s government affairs priorities over the course of the next year, especially as they relate to the tough economic circumstances and sustainability issues facing family farmers.

New England was represented by New England Farmers Union President Roger Noonan and NEFU delegates Matt Barron, Allan Reetz, Director of Public and Government Affairs, Co-op Food Stores, and Suzette Cobb-Snow, NFCA staff. Suzette also served on the Credentials, Elections and Rules Committee for the convention elections.

“It was amazing and energizing to witness family farm representatives from across the country come together and discuss and adopt organizational directives and federal policy priorities.” said NFCA’s Suzette Snow-Cobb. “I am impressed with the level of leadership, dedication and hard work that that was evident at the convention and throughout the farming communities represented by NFU.”

NEFU representatives had particular interest in the adoption special orders of business: Family Farming and Cooperatives and Family Farming and Climate Change, two areas particularly relevant to our food co-operatives as well.

Before the policy review began, delegates elected Rob Larew to succeed Roger Johnson as the organization’s president and reelected Patty Edelburg of Scandinavia, Wisconsin, to serve as NFU Vice President.

Convention attendees heard keynote remarks from Matt Paul, a nationally recognized expert in public affairs, and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. NFU President Roger Johnson delivered his final State of the Farmers Union address, offering an overview of his 11-year-long tenure and an optimistic outlook for the organization’s future. Additionally, the convention featured a panel on black land loss and voting rights and breakout sessions on precision agriculture, the history of grassroots organizing, regenerative farming, farm to table, and hemp production.

“Between low commodity prices, climate change, and trade uncertainty, there are so many challenges in farm country right now,” said Larew. “But there are so many bright spots too. As consumers get more interested in where their food comes from and how it’s made, new local and diverse agricultural markets are opening up. Conservation agriculture holds significant potential for financial and environmental benefits. Every day, new technologies are making it easier for farmers to improve efficiency and sustainability. And across the country, there’s a resurgence in support for family farm agriculture. So while this convention is a crucial opportunity to address the difficulties facing family farmers and ranchers, it’s also an opportunity to celebrate all the reasons we love agriculture and dedicate our lives to it.”

Find our more about the National Farmers Union policies and special orders:

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


Our Neighborhood Co-op Calendar

Join your Neighboring Food Co-ops in June in Sioux Falls, SD, for CCMA 2020 as we embrace our diverse identities and grow the food co-op movement!

For More Co-op Events, Visit

MARCH 2020

Friday, March 20 – 10:00-11:00 AM EST via Webinar

New England Cooperative Policy Roundtable (Co-Hosted by NFCA)

Register for Webinar at



9th Annual Meeting of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA)

Join us for full day of presentations, workshops, and networking for NFCA member food co-op board members & staff.

MAY 2020

Saturday, May 16

NFCA Food Co-op Startup Gathering

Join us for full day of training and networking for NFCA member food co-op startups.


JUNE 2020

June 4-6

CCMA for Food Co-ops Conference


JULY 2020

July 4

International Co-ops Day



August 13-15

Federation of Southern Co-operatives 52nd Annual Meeting



October 7-9

NCBA CLUSA Co-op Impact Conference


Saturday, October 17

Columinate Co-op Cafe (Co-Hosted by NFCA)


The Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) is a co-operative federation of 35 food co-ops and startup 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.