Communicate

Let’s Talk About the Strength of Cooperative Communities

One of the amazing things I’ve noticed about the people here is everyone’s ability to carry on in the face of so many challenges, working with so much persistence and skill that no one would even know what our employees are up against. When shoppers come to our stores, most have no idea that people are dealing with staffing shortages, supply chain bottlenecks, and of course, the continued, lingering issues caused by inflation and the pandemic. To make this happen, there is an enormous effort going on behind the scenes to work in new ways and support one another in our cooperative community. In my view, that’s the strength of our culture and the traditions here. We’re a value-driven organization, with a vision to see a well-nourished community that is cultivated through cooperation. People turn to those values to find ways to make progress regardless of the circumstances.

It’s the reason we’re building new teams, investing in our people, enhancing our compensation packages, prioritizing an inclusive culture, expanding our local food program, bringing new technology online, improving the customer experience, and running our stores efficiently even with fewer staff and more limited resources.

Recently one of my colleagues compared our stores to local farms, suggesting that the two seemingly disparate entities are similar at heart. Like an Upper Valley family farm, a Co-op food store or service center is made up of dedicated people who work together to overcome relentless unpredictability in order to bring much-needed products and services to the community. And when it’s done right—as it so often is—the community has no idea how much work it took. Comparing our business to a small family farm is a good analogy in many ways. For example, as I’m writing this it’s a cloudless and mild late-July afternoon, and the sunshine and warm weather make it easy to forget how different things were just a year ago. Last summer an extended stretch of cool, rainy days had a devastating impact on many of our local farms, and widespread flooding had virtually wiped out a number of crops. But this year the crops are strong, and our Produce Departments are thrilled to be getting regular deliveries of so many customer favorites. That’s the fickle nature of what we all do, and the incredible tenacity of our people.

Most people don’t remember the heavy rains and flooded fields of 2021 and what it took to bounce back from it, but our farmers, merchandisers, and Produce Department staff do. 

So today I wanted to recognize and thank all of the people who work so hard to keep our cooperative going and further its mission, especially when times are hard. It takes a team of people—employees, growers, vendors, distributors, members, shoppers—working together to make it possible, and your efforts have a huge impact on the communities we all serve.  Thanks to our members for all you do. And as always, reach out to me anytime! —Amanda

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Amanda Charland

Amanda Charland

Amanda Charland is the General Manager of the Co-op Food Stores. She was first hired as the Co-op's Sustainability Coordinator in 2012, and joined the Co-op Leadership Team as Member Services and Outreach Director in 2014. She earned a Master's Degree in Cooperative Management in 2017, and she was promoted to Director of Cooperative Engagement in 2018. She was hired by the Co-op Board of Directors as General Manager in 2022. Contact her at acharland@coopfoodstore.com.