Toward the Ends: Outcomes, results, and benefits of the Brattleboro Food Cooperative

  | Board of Directors, News from the Board of Directors

by Jerelyn Wilson and Calvin Dame

“Where we are headed matters. If we don’t know where we are going, any road will do.” 

This is the beginning of an article that all Board members read in following up on our December Retreat. Where are we going? What’s up ahead? Are we able to see what’s coming so we can make better decisions today to ensure our health, safety, and happiness for tomorrow?

Just any road will not do in today’s world. As we look ahead, we can see major issues that exist now and will be affecting us, and in particular, the food industry. Your Board members feel a deep responsibility to do what we can to assure a “thriving future” for the Brattleboro Food Co-op. This means we need to be paying close attention to what’s ahead and the direction in which we are headed. 

The fact that the Co-op is not just a retail food store, but a cooperative retail food store gives us certain guideposts. We have a defined set of values and principles that influence how we operate. When we think about the reason for our existence, it is, to a great extent, about community. The purpose of our business, as articulated in our Bylaws, is to “operate with a focus on food and related products in accord with the International Cooperative Alliance Statement on Cooperative Identity.” We are a retail grocery store that is committed to contributing to the resilience of the people and region we serve.

In the Co-op’s governance framework, it is the Board’s Ends Policies that provide guidance to the General Manager, informing the everyday decisions the GM makes in store operations. As has been mentioned in the two previous Food For Thought issues in January, the Board is reviewing our current Ends Policies. Our current Ends are good policies. However, in our December Retreat, the Board came to a clear recognition of the significant impact both climate change and economic disparity are having and will continue to have on both our retail food operation and our regional community. We want our Ends Policies to incorporate these two key issues in direct and actionable ways. We will keep you abreast of our journey, and as always, you are invited to respond to what you read and to participate in our meetings.