Communication is Key

  | Board of Directors, Food For Thought

I really enjoy the first Monday of the month when the Board of Directors come together to discuss the state of the Co-op. We all get to enjoy each other’s company, have a great meal from the Deli (always a home run), occasionally meet shareholders who are joining us for the meeting, and to discuss our Co-op. It has been so encouraging to see the Co-op doing better financially. It has also been wonderful to see how communication has increased and improved between and/or with shareholders, customers, staff, and our community.

Every board meeting includes focus on a report by the GM and monitoring reports –the GM reporting on compliance (or not) on specific policies and/or the board monitoring itself with regard to policies. We usually have in-depth discussions. Every meeting I find myself enlightened by information that has been shared with us, and fellow board members’ insights, alternative perspectives and comments.

One task we are asked to do on the board is to join committees. Currently we have three: Bylaws and Policies, Board Recruitment, and (the one I am on as chair) Communications Committee. This committee has not only board members on it, but two wonderful shareholders who have already gotten their feet wet volunteering in their community. Katherine B. and Jon P. have been helping us see ideas with fresh eyes.

One of the Communications Committee’s purposes is to reach out to other organizations and boards in the community for at least a couple of reasons: to develop links and collaborative relationships with other organizations serving needs and supporting the whole of our community, and to offer services from our Education Department, services that range from cooking and nutrition classes, to our Pennywise Pantry tour. For example, in January Beth and I attended the Stone Soup Social, a gathering of groups of local non-profits during which each provides information of about the services they provide. I was surprised just how many of them we already collaborate with.

The Board and the Communications Committee are looking for more opportunities for communication and collaboration, and ask that if anyone is interested to please let us know and we would be happy to attend a board meeting. We as a community can do more in co-operation.

Talking with all who shop the Co-op is a big priority, and as many of you know, two board members ‘table’ once a month. It is a time for all shareholders and shoppers to share stories about their experience at the Co-op, things that are making you satisfied or happy, your concerns and questions you have. The information we collect from tabling has led to discussion, some changes, some challenges and questions. If there is any question of whether your comments or questions are being set aside and forgotten, I assure you they are not. Some of the concerns we’ve heard have led to lengthy conversations and changes in policy. Please ask questions or give us your comments about our Co-op when you see us tabling.

In addition to talking with board members, I’d like to highlight a service provided to those interested. It is a point of communication the Co-op has developed and which is now informative and incredibly useful. It is one I rely on as a single mom of two older boys: the Pennywise Pantry tour. When times were lean for my family, I had to find ways to provide nutritious meals for my boys that were affordable. Working on the tour has given me the tools to shop the Co-op on a restricted budget and provide meals for $10 or less. There is a lot of information to share. Please take advantage of it. It is a one-hour tour of the store with information given in every department. I encourage you to sign up for it at the Shareholder Services desk and I will show you what I learned.

And, please don’t forget to contact me or another board member to discuss how we can work together to better our community.

By Anna Edson