Happy New Year everyone and thank you for an incredibly successful holiday season at the Brattleboro Food Co-op! I hope everyone found a few moments of peace and stillness during the hustle and bustle and had some time to reflect on the year.
In addition to the holidays, we held shareholder feedback sessions (as discussed in our Annual Meeting). Thank you to everyone who took the time to share their thoughts on the future of the Co-op. Whether you attended a feedback session in person or sent thoughts our way via email, all of the feedback was heard and reviewed. We also welcomed new board members and held our annual board retreat. Both were opportunities to listen and share ideas about how the BFC can ensure a thriving future. In both discussions, two major themes emerged. The first was the growing concern about increasing income disparity and its impact on access to healthy food. The second was the growing impact of climate change and the existential threat it presents to how we live today.
One thing is clear: we have an opportunity to refocus our efforts in several key ways that will help address these concerns for our shareholders. One way to help address income disparity is to examine our discount structure, specifically shifting the focus of our discounts. By moving to a needs-based discount structure and allocating resources to those who truly need them, we can help make the healthy, organic, local foods that we carry accessible to more people. The second way we can help is to focus our partnerships and charitable giving efforts on organizations that are focused on providing food to our community. Based on conversations over the past couple of months there is a strong preference for making fewer, larger contributions to food-based organizations that will materially and meaningfully affect their mission. From a sustainability perspective, we can make the most significant impact by re-invigorating our commitment to our local farmers beyond just being a place they can sell their goods. An example would be creating new benefits for our Producer of the Month program. A close second however is finding ways to reduce the footprint of our supplies and operations. I am happy to share that initial testing on compostable replacements for plastic is looking favorable and we are hoping to test some in-store soon. We will continue to focus on waste reduction and energy efficiency as we plan for the future.
We are fortunate to have such supportive and vocal shareholders and I appreciate all the conversations, thoughts, suggestions, and ideas that so many of you have shared. Rest assured we have heard you and look forward to sharing more as our thinking progresses. Thank you again, and here is to a joyful and prosperous 2023!
“The new year arrived
in utter simplicity –
and a deep blue sky.”
By Lee Bradford, General Manager