A Letter from the Co-op General Manager
To our cooperative community,
First and foremost today, a note of gratitude. My thanks to all the members who have reached out to me over the past few weeks, calling and emailing me with your questions, candid feedback, and notes of encouragement. I appreciate the sense of collaboration and cooperation here as we navigate a lot of change together. With that in mind, I would like to update you on some of the issues we have been talking about at the Co-op over the past few days.
Yesterday morning, the Co-op’s leadership team had a good discussion about what is going on in the world of retail around us, especially when it comes to supplies. Due to the intense strain on national supply chains, many food retailers are putting a limit on products, often to the chagrin of customers. This is a particularly acute issue for the meat industry, which is experiencing major supply disruptions and increased consumer demand.
Currently, the beef and pork sectors are being hit the hardest. At the Co-op, we are seeing the impact of this through significant price increases and product-availability issues with commodity beef and pork. However, because of the relationships we have built with local farmers and distributors, we expect to have a strong supply of locally and regionally raised beef and pork available for shoppers. In addition, our new Cryovac packaging capabilities in Hanover and Lebanon allow us to offer these products with a longer shelf life and in a self-serve capacity.
One of the strengths of our Co-op is that we source from multiple suppliers, many of them local or regional, and we do not pull from a central warehouse. The result is we have multiple avenues for securing products even when there are gaps in availability. A special thanks to our key vendor partners assisting us in these difficult times—Boyden Farm, Robie Farm, Hardwick Beef, Black River Meats, and Sheep Meadow Farm.
2020 Board of Directors Election Results
This is my first letter to you since the election results were released late last week, so if you have not heard, the facts bear repeating: First, four new directors were elected to the Co-op Board: Marta Ceroni, Nick Clark, Peggy O’Neil, and Manish Kumar. Second, the membership voted overwhelmingly yes (93%) in favor of the Board’s plan to secure the financing we need to make a variety of critical upgrades at the Co-op over the next few years. From all of us at the Co-op, congratulations to our new directors, and thank you to our members for supporting the Board’s plan.
Vermont and New Hampshire Reopening Orders
You have no doubt heard that states across the country are working on their reopening plans, and Vermont and New Hampshire are no exception. Both states have rolled out limited reopening plans designed to kick-start their respective economies. We have looked at both plans carefully and compared the nuances side by side. As I have written before, most of the recommendations are things our employees and members are already doing. This includes staying home when sick, wearing a mask, and keeping at least six feet away from others, among other recommendations. Where we have questions or see areas of concern, we have reached out to state task-force officials for clarification. While we await clarification on several topics, there will be no changes to our current slate of extensive social-distancing policies.
Finally, an update on curbside pickup, a topic of interest to many of our members. Everything is progressing on schedule, including expansion to the Lebanon store and the Co-op Community Market later this month. This week our curbside pickup team is also testing a new online ordering system, which will greatly expand our customer-service capabilities. The progress made is the direct result of an interdisciplinary team of Co-op employees, all working shoulder-to-shoulder. Truly, it has been cooperation in action.
As always, if you would like to talk about anything in this message or anything else at all, reach out to me anytime. In the meantime, take good care of yourselves. See you in the stores or at the curbside. Be well. Be safe.
Onwards and upwards,
Above, photo provided by our friends at Robie Farm, Piermont, N.H.