By the Neighboring Food Co-op Association
This October, the Co-op Food Stores is joining over 30,000 co-ops and credit unions across the United States in celebrating Co-op Month, recognizing the many ways co-operatives help to build stronger communities and more resilient local economies. For 2016, the National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International has identified “Co-operatives Build” as the theme for the month, spotlighting the advantages co-ops offer to their members and the communities in which they live and work.
“Across New England, food co-ops help people build community,” said Erbin Crowell, Executive Director of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA). “For example, the majority of our member co-ops have been in business for over 30 years, providing healthy food, jobs and a market for local producers for decades.”
The NFCA includes more than 35 food co-ops and start-up initiatives, locally owned by more than 107,000 people. Together, these co-ops employ over 1,800 people, generate revenues of more than $250 million, and purchase more than $50 million from local producers each year. In recent years, a new wave of community based start-up initiatives has been working to open new food co-ops in communities across our region. (For a map of member co-ops, visit www.nfca.coop/members.)
Cooperatives are businesses that are owned and governed by their members, the people who use the products and services they provide. From food co-ops to farmer co-ops, worker co-ops to credit unions, and housing co-ops to energy co-ops, co-operatives make a difference in people’s lives every day. Co-ops are also more common than you might think: Here in the United States, 1 in 3 people are members of at least one co-op or credit union. Nationwide, co-operatives create 2.1 million jobs and generate more than $650 billion in sales and other revenue annually.
You may be surprised to find so many items made by cooperatives in New England, including dairy products from Cabot, McCadam and Organic Valley, fresh produce from Deep Root Organic Co-op, fairly traded coffee, tea and chocolate from Equal Exchange, beverages from Katalyst Kombucha and Green River Ambrosia, seeds and bulbs from FEDCO, naturally fermented vegetables from Real Pickles, northeast grown frozen fruits and vegetables from the Neighboring Food Co-op Association — and many others.
For more examples of how food co-ops empower people to build their communities, please visit www.nfca.coop.
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