A Mid-Year Report

  | Board of Directors, Food For Thought

“Success is a balance of life where we can meet our own expectations while at the same time achieving success in our commitments to others.”
~Byron Pulsifer

By the time you read this, it will be August, and we will be more than halfway through the board year. It’s time for me to offer you a brief mid-year report on the Board’s work so far this year.

As you know the Board’s main responsibilities are to:

  • monitor and oversee the work of the GM, including monitoring the state of our Co-op in general and in particular, the financial health of our Co-op regularly;
  • monitor and evaluate the GM’s performance in relation to our Co-op Ends policies.

To do this we review and discuss reports submitted by the GM —a monthly general report and additional reports, each of which addresses one of the seven Ends in turn. We also listen to, collect and discuss shareholder feedback, collected during tabling or in conversations in or outside the store, during our meetings (a huge thank you for those of you who take time to speak with us especially when we are tabling; please do keep talking with us).

Several things have emerged from what we have heard and/or read:

  • shoppers are finding the Co-op an increasingly welcoming marketplace;
  • there continues to be an increase in foods and products that are locally sourced and produced;
  • fair-trade products have also increased;
  • shareholders enjoy a variety of workshops, and we have begun to hear that more are reading FFT and/or using the BFC website to get information;
  • a greater range of shoppers is buying at the Co-op.

We also continue to hear concerns about: pricing, and the extent to which the Co-op can be a regenerative business that has a net positive environmental impact (Ends policy #3) given certain types of packaging used by producers and the Co-op. Lately we have also begun to hear comments, feedback and opinions about discounts and possible changes to discount programs.

In our committee work:

  • we are reaching out to all shareholders to consider running for the Board (we would be delighted to sit down and answer questions or concerns you may have) and we are especially interested in hearing from those of you who would be interested in serving with us on the Board of Directors;
  • we are reaching out to other organizations in Brattleboro to collaborate and deepen our work in, and contribution to, the local community especially in the areas of food education and security, and developing employment potential in local young people and adults;
  • and we have begun planning the Annual Meeting on November 9th.

As was true last year, the Bylaws & Policies committee is working on the Co-op bylaws, fine-tuning our governing documents so they more closely reflect the intent of our founds and the way things are really being done today. The Board can only propose changes to bylaws; shareholders are encouraged to utilize their democratic right to vote for or against the proposed changes. Following are the bylaw changes being proposed:

  1. Make a global stylistic change to all BFC Bylaws by adding a hyphen to the word “Coop” (also “coop”), as in “Co-op” and “co-op”.
  2. To modify Bylaw Section 2.4 in the following manner:

The change: Delete “to patronize the Coop on at least an occasional basis and”, as shown below (insertions are shown underlined, deletions shown crossed out):
Section 2.4 – Responsibilities.
To maintain shareholder status in good standing, shareholders shall keep reasonably current in share payments, including payments required by reason of an increase in the stated value of shares. Shareholders shall abide by these by-laws, by decisions made at shareholder and Board meetings and by the means established in these by-laws to amend such decisions. Shareholders are expected to patronize the Coop on at least an occasional basis and to apprise the Coop of any changes of name or address.

3.  To modify Bylaw Section 2.2 as shown below:

The change: Add “A legal entity applying for membership must name a single individual as an authorized representative” to the bylaw.
Section 2.2 – Admission.
Applicants shall be admitted to shareholder status upon paying or subscribing for a share of common stock at its then stated value. In the event of questionable eligibility, admission shall be subject to approval by the Board of Directors. On or before admission to shareholder status each applicant shall be provided a copy of these bylaws, including the appended explanation of the patronage dividend consent provision, such copy indicating its date of approval or adoption. A legal entity applying for membership must name a single individual as an authorized representative.

In all our work, the Board strives for balance: balancing your feedback with where the Co-op is and where it can be right now; balancing what the Co-op is right now and a vision for its becoming more of what we shareholders want it to be. In our Board meetings, we strive for a balance of focus, seriousness and humor; our work as board members and engaging as people who like each other; and very importantly, balancing our personal visions for the Co-op with your vision and desires for our Co-op. Please join us. Please continue to talk with us.

By Beth Neher