First and foremost, I wanted to extend our thoughts and well wishes to everyone who has been impacted by the recent flooding across the state. At the BFC, we are coordinating efforts with other cooperatives including City Market, Middlebury, Hunger Mountain, Hanover, Monadnock, and Littleton to support local farms through the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) and other organizations. One big way you can help is Round Up for Change in August, which will add flood relief. The BFC will be matching every dollar raised for flood relief to double the contribution. Thank you to everyone in advance for supporting this fundraising and helping Vermont recover from the flooding.
As the full impact of these floods on our farms and communities becomes realized, it underscores the urgency we all feel to address climate change and income disparity. There are very real ways we can help, as both members of our cooperative and active citizens. I encourage everyone to engage your representatives in Congress regarding the Farm Bill currently being considered. The Farm Bill is the primary agriculture and food policy legislation of the federal government. This omnibus bill determines policy and funding levels for agriculture, food assistance programs, natural resources, and other aspects of food and agriculture under the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Farm Bill influences the production and distribution of food which directly affects the availability and affordability of products on grocery shelves. By actively participating in the legislative process, cooperative shareholders can advocate for policies that support local and sustainable food systems. We can help ensure that farmers and food producers receive fair compensation for their products, promoting a more resilient and diverse agricultural sector. The Farm Bill also includes provisions for nutrition assistance programs such as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). By engaging in the process we can help advocate for improved access to nutritious foods for vulnerable populations. Finally, it is critical that we actively support measures that incentivize environmentally responsible farming practices, soil conservation, and biodiversity protection. In short, we must advocate strongly for a more sustainable and resilient food supply chain, ensuring the long-term viability of sourcing options for our community. This is an enormous and complex piece of legislation with far-reaching implications for years to come and it behooves us all to engage our democratic process, learn as much as we can, and voice our thoughts to decision-makers. There are a number of online resources available, including the Senate’s Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry and the USDA’s Economic Research Service .
Within our walls, we continue our focus on sustainability and food insecurity in several key ways. Sarah Brennan has added responsibilities as our Sustainability Coordinator and is currently leading an internal audit process that is planned for completion by the end of September. This will help us develop a roadmap to drive a real reduction in our environmental footprint. In the short term, we are already taking some action, including the recycling of pallet wrap plastic and the removal of most plastics in our office areas (like trash can liners, plastic cups, etc.). We are planning to reset our Bulk department this fall, and that will include a transition to a compostable plastic container alternative which we hope to expand to the deli grab-and-go. The Bulk reset will also allow us to provide more bulk alternatives, including the return of our self-serve liquids area. To help with food insecurity, as shared back in March, we will be changing our discount structure in the fall. This change will eliminate the Elder discount program while providing more support for our Food for All and Shareholder Labor programs. Also this fall, we will be making Groundworks a permanent Round Up for Change partner to ensure steady financial support for this critical community partner.
These are just a few highlights in two areas. There is certainly plenty more we are up to, including a new contract with our Union partners that invests in our incredible staff. This September our Annual Meeting returns as an in-person event, and I encourage you to attend. This is a great opportunity to hear more and share your thoughts and ideas. We are planning a World Cafe for the meeting to help facilitate meaningful group conversations, and I am really looking forward to it. Thank you to everyone for your continued support, and I hope to see you in September.
By Lee Bradford, General Manager