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Co-op Board: Meetings
Special Meeting: Appointing a new Board President
DATE: Thursday, April 11
TIME: 5:30 pm
LOCATION: Conference Room B at Co-op Administration Office
2 Buck Road, Upper Lot Entrance N, Hanover, N.H.
Next Board Meeting
DATE: Wednesday, April 24
TIME: 6:00 p.m.
LOCATION: Hanover Board Room at Hanover Store
45 South Park St., Hanover, N.H.
BOARD PACKET DOWNLOAD: Coming Soon
Board Meeting Recap — March 27, 2019
Here’s a brief summary of key issues from the March board meeting:
GENERAL MANAGER’S REPORT
General Manager Ed Fox reported that 2019’s finances continue to track ahead of budget. He also noted that the Service Center in Norwich recently passed its Vermont state inspection and plans to begin offering Vermont vehicle inspections the first week in April.
He also announced that the Co-op had two proposals accepted for the 2019 national conference run by the Consumer Cooperative Management Association and attended by board members and managers from co-ops all across the country. Education Manager Emily Rogers will co-present at a session on food access programs, and Director of Outreach Amanda Charland will co-present on our member engagement project. As further evidence of the Co-op’s national impact, Ed also mentioned that Director of Public Relations Allan Reetz was testifying that very week in Washington, D.C., before the National Organic Standards Board and was also meeting, while he was there, with staff members for both the Vermont and New Hampshire U.S. Senate delegations.
Ed informed the board that members eligible for a patronage refund cannot, according to state law, have their accounts credited at the register but must instead be issued as cash (i.e., checks). As a result, the board approved his recommendation that if a given member’s patronage refund is less than $1.00, it will be retained and rolled over into next year’s patronage refund. Approximately 52% of members are eligible for a patronage refund this year, he noted.
SINGLE-USE PLASTIC BAGS
Ed Fox also read aloud a letter he had sent to members of the board earlier that day and said that he planned to release the next day — first to employees, then to the media and all members of the Co-op. In it, he announced that “Beginning immediately, our co-op will initiate a plan to reduce our dependency on plastic bags, with an end goal of phasing them out completely by the spring of 2020.” Read his full article on our blog.
As it happens, there were a number of Co-op members present at the meeting to speak to that very issue, so the Member Comment section of the agenda was moved up. The members who spoke expressed many thoughtful perspectives — hope for more information materials in the stores about plastics; hope that the Co-op will reduce its use of all plastics, not just single-use bags at the registers; concern about plastics’ effect on wildlife, especially marine life; a request that paper bags in more sizes be more evident in the produce section; and a dislike of the use of plastic clamshells in the bulk department.
In addition, one member expressed concern about the fact that she is unable to bring her own containers for deli purchases and can only get deli items if they go in the Co-op’s disposable containers. Ed explained that unfortunately, state health codes prohibit the use of customer-provided containers in deli departments (but do permit them in bulk departments); he added that the Co-op is considering tackling this issue at the policy level.
The discussion concluded with board member Jessica Saturley-Hall, chair of the Waste Reduction Committee, and Ed Fox thanking so many members for coming to share their input. Jessica added that similar comments were repeated many times over — “and heard,” she said — in the recent member survey on the subject. And Ed encouraged members to continue writing him with ideas.
This month, the Board discussed the organization’s compliance with its Ends Global policies and its B-GM 4 (Monitoring General Manager Performance) policy. The board found itself in compliance on the former and in compliance on all but one subsection of the latter — but with a plan for remediation in place.
MEMBER ENGAGEMENT PROJECT
Director of Outreach Amanda Charland gave a presentation about the current status of her department’s member engagement project. Most significantly, she shared some metrics indicating the value of the project. Understanding our customers better through this project, she said, has increased Culinary Learning Center participation by almost 50%. And the number of people following the Co-op on Instagram has risen from 183 to over 1,100.
In addition, as a result of insights from the project, the Co-op has developed vouchers for LISTEN clients, so they can take advantage of service center repairs donated for those who need assistance. Then Jessica Giordani, the board liaison to the project, led a discussion soliciting other board members’ help in defining the “cooperative commerce” aspect of the project.
COMMITTEE AND TASK FORCE UPDATES
Ann Shriver Sargent, chair of the Annual Meeting Task Force, reported that plans are all set for this year’s annual meeting, on April 6, and shared the proposed agenda for the meeting.
The board voted to establish a Diversity Committee, with Liz Blum as its chair, that, according to the committee charter “shall work toward the achievement of racial and social equity in our Co-op by supporting the board in promoting diversity in accordance with the mission of the board to serve and represent the foreseeable trends of future communities and our overarching cooperative principle number 1.”
Kevin Birdsey, chair of the Governance Committee, reported that the group is continuing to work on improving the board’s monitoring processes.
Jessica Saturley-Hall, chair of the Waste Reduction Committee, offered a brief synopsis of the committee’s recent survey of members and customers about single-use plastic bags and also noted the recent comprehensive report on the subject issued by the committee. Several board members praised the depth and thoughtfulness of the report, and the board decided to post the report on the Co-op website, with the exception of two sections containing comments on the issue from people whose permission was not asked to regarding use of their input in a public forum.
Finally, Liz Blum Liz Blum reported on attendance from our Co-op at the annual meeting of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association in Greenfield, Mass. Attending from the HCCF in addition to herself were board members Bill Craig and Victoria Fullerton, plus two employees: General Manager Ed Fox and Education Manager Emily Rogers. Ed and Emily were both presenters — Ed on climate change and Emily on co-ops and recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP — formerly known as food stamps) benefits. Liz also mentioned that she, board member Rosemary Fifield, and employees Ed Fox, Director of Public Relations Allan Reetz, and Produce Merchandiser Dot Benham had attended a recent day-long symposium on the Real Organic Project hosted by Dartmouth College.
The next regular board meeting will be Wednesday, April 24, at 6:00 p.m. in the upstairs Board Room at the Hanover store.
Your comments are always welcome. Feel free to send us an president [at] coopfoodstore.com (email).
Nourish. Cultivate. Cooperate.