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October 2021 | Long-Time Owners Increased Investment, Saving Co-op Amidst Pandemic

Dear Member-Owner,

This blog post is for our founding member-owners who invested in the co-op prior to October 2020. 

Happy Co-op Month! This October, we wanted to thank you for investing in your community-owned cooperative! Your $200 equity investment provided vital funding needed to get our doors open last December! 

Simply put, we would not be where we are today if it weren't for your support!

Last October, our membership voted “yes” to an increase in our equity share price from $200 to $300. When our membership voted, they were looking at both the short-term and long-term needs of our Co-op. Our financial projections demonstrated that we needed to raise additional equity from both current and future owners to ensure our success. 

This change and the way we structured it was about our immediate survival, positioning the co-op to reach our long-term potential, and ensuring equitability amongst founding and new members alike.  

Immediately after the vote, 300 long-time members sprung into action, adding their additional $100 by December. This gave us the final $30K push needed to open our doors after facing major set-backs caused by Covid-19. The pandemic caused construction delays, cost increases, and added necessary improvements to keep our staff and customers safe, healthy, and satisfied. We would not be open today without the support of those 300 owners. 

Since then another 190 long-time members added their $100, bringing us up to $49K in additional grassroots community capital. This additional $19k allowed for us to make additional improvements to our space, product selection, and staff compensation and benefits all of which were needed to keep our young store afloat in an challenging, ever-changing environment that left countless well-seasoned businesses floundering. 

Now, it’s your turn. We are writing today to encourage you to take the next step in building our financial foundation. If you are still at the $200 equity mark, and there's no better time than now to pay your $100 balance in order to reach the full $300 equity! 

We rely on a growing base of owner equity to ensure a strong financial foundation that will allow our store to continue to grow and improve so that we can do more to live our mission of "Using food as a force for good - at our tables, in our community and for our planet." 

Owner Equity is fundamentally important to our Co-op and this blog post explains why. 

Here are two easy ways you can help our October Ownership & Equity Drive and pay off or start to pay off your equity owed:

  1. Pay it off! If you are able, please add $100 to your equity investment today! 
  2. If you are not able to add $100 right now, please sign up for an installment plan, or simply add an amount you can afford today.

Your investment will help us reach our October goal of raising $8,000 in additional equity. It will also ensure that you will be a member in good standing so you can enjoy the continued benefits of member-ownership which include:

  • Our Community & Store - Build the local equity needed for South Philly to thrive.
  • Democratic Elections - Elect and have the opportunity to run for the board.
  • Owner Appreciation Days - Get special discounts and enjoy free product samples (this is coming up on 10/19!)
  • Bulk Discounts - Save on case quantities and get special deals.
  • Patronage Refunds - Share in the profits based on patronage of our store.
  • Local Business Discounts - Save at over 40 participating local businesses.
  • Workshops & Events - Participate in free community workshops and events.

We are asking every member-owner who is not yet at the $300 equity level to sign up for an affordable, flexible installment plan by the end of the year in order to stay active. 

As a consumer co-op, we own the co-op equally and that’s why we ask everyone to contribute the same amount of equity. If you need an extended payment plan, we’re here to work with you. Just $5/month will keep you active. And if you are facing economic hardship, our Community Equity Fund is here to help. 

We know that the holiday season can be busy and that is why we’re asking you to take this important step today. 

*BONUS* If you add equity in October you'll get:

  • Entered into a raffle to win a $100 SPFC gift card or a pair of Eagles tickets for a game in December
  • A 10% off coupon good through the end of the year
  • A shout out on the wall in the store

*For raffle: $10 minimum equity to enter and one entry per day max

Add Equity

 

If you need assistance with making your payment online, these instructions may help. You can also stop by the store and add equity or sign up for a CEF scholarship with the help of one of our friendly cashiers. 

Your additional Equity will make a lasting impact on your Cooperative, setting us up for success so that we can continue to navigate the changing landscape and advance our mission for the better of our whole community. We know we can do it with your help!

In Cooperation, 

Lori Burge, General Manager 

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October 2021 | Ownership + Equity Drive

Happy Co-op Month! 

This October marks the first Co-op month we get to celebrate with a real brick and mortar store! Our store has been warmly received and as a result we’ve been able to expand our selection, increase the number of jobs we provide, and bring on more local farmers and producers. 

As a mission-driven cooperative, we’re always working hard to advance our mission. That’s why, this October, we're working hard to grow our reach in the South Philly Community! 

It's our October Equity Drive! Our goal is to welcome 40 new member-owners and raise $8,000 in equity this month! And there’s something everyone can do to help! 

Not a member? Now is the time to join! Already an owner? You can help too!

Ways you can help your Co-op and our store:  

One of the goals of our month-long drive is to raise visibility to the cooperative difference and to illustrate why growing our base of ownership and equity is just as important to us now as it was before we opened our doors. 

Why is Equity Important to the Co-op?

  • Equity is ownership, and ownership is the foundation of the co-op model.
  • Consumer ownership and equity makes us more than just a grocery store.
  • We would not be open today without equity and ownership.
  • Co-ops are able to open and thrive where chain stores and sole proprietors won't or can't and it is our ownership and equity numbers that allow us to do so.
  • Equity is capitalization, under-capitalized businesses fail.
  • Grocery is a capital intensive, low-margin business, profits are slim.
  • Equity builds our financial foundation, allowing us to replace aging equipment when needed, and to grow and improve to better serve our community.
  • Current funders require us to attain and report on ownership, equity, and other related benchmarks.
  • Equity is necessary to secure future loans and other funding.
  • Community investment through ownership and equity make it possible for us to advance our mission.
  • Equity is ownership, when we own more and owe less, we are stronger.

Your equity investment makes you an owner. Ownership comes with these benefits: 

  • Our Community + Store:  Build the local equity needed for South Philly to thrive.
  • Democratic Elections: Elect and have the opportunity to run for the board.
  • Owner Appreciation Days: Get special discounts and enjoy free product samples.
  • Bulk Discounts: Save on case quantities and get special deals.
  • Patronage Refunds: Share in the profits based on patronage of our store.
  • Local Business Discounts: Save at over 40 participating local businesses.
  • Workshops + Events: Participate in free community workshops and events.

We want everyone who shops with us to experience the cooperative difference and to have access to and enjoy the benefits of member-ownership. 

Our Community Equity Fund extends the benefits of ownership to community members who would otherwise be unable to afford the full $300 investment. 

Investing in the Co-op and our CEF and patronizing our store as a shopper make a big difference. 

By each of us taking the next step together we can do more to advance our mission:  “Using food as a force for good—at our tables, in our community, and for our planet.” 

If you are not yet an owner, join

If you are not yet fully invested at the $300 level, add equity.

If you are fully invested, donate to Our Community Equity Fund.

And whatever your investment status is, invite your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers to join our effort! 

Lastly, we encourage you to shop with us this Co-op Month and throughout the upcoming holiday season. When you invest and shop co-op you are voting for a more equitable food economy. 

In Cooperation,

Lori Burge

General Manager 





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Pricing

Dear Co-op Owners and Shoppers,

We are so excited to have finally opened our doors after 10 years of community organizing, investment, and hard work. Now that we’re open, we are working to fine tune our systems. That means our department leads and I are doing walkthroughs of our store and operational systems to ensure they support operational sustainability and also fall in line with our mission and end statements. We also welcome your input here: customer comment form.

As you know, one of our most important values is providing our whole community access to fresh, healthful foods.  Throughout January and February we will be making it a priority to review our pricing structures and roll out new programs to advance our goal that "Our neighbors at all income levels have access to high-quality, healthful food."

On the topic of pricing, we are happy with the progress we have made in regards to pricing for our produce, bread, and many local items. We are aware that we have some work to do in regards to both the wholesale price we pay as well as the retail price of some of our nationally distributed items, there is a connection between the two.

As a small start-up there are many complex variables and hurdles that we must navigate to meet this important goal. Our first year sales projections fall under $2M, and that means we are small potatoes compared to chain stores. Economy of scale is real and larger chains can buy things by the truckload that we purchase by the case. The food system has many challenges and this is one of them. Money = power. It's important to note that as a small retailer large distributors do not give us the same lower prices as chains like Acme, Walmart, and Whole Foods get through substantial volume discounts. Chain store volume discounts vastly exceed ours and that means at times they are selling items close to what we pay cost. Additionally as a new store bringing in thousands of products, means there thousands of prices that need to be evaluated. Lastly opening the store in the midst of a pandemic meant that we a number of other adjustments we had to make to open our store safely that included additional equipment and planning, and we had to reduce the number of people who could be involved in the setting of the store to ensure we were working with the health of our workers and the public in mind. Overall we came into this opening with less capacity than we had originally planned, but it was important for us to open when we did because our community needs fresh, healthy food, our staff need jobs, and our sustainability relied on opening our doors as quickly as possible given all the construction, equipment, and supply delays caused by the pandemic.

Here is our plan:

  • Everyday Basics Program - Roll out our Everyday Basics program which will bring over 75 staple food items and other household essentials down to an everyday low price. We’ll be rolling this out by January 18th.
  • Field Day Program - We are signing up for volume discount pricing on Field Day brand products. This will allow us to work those items into our Everyday Basics Program.
  • Product Mix Assessment- We will be working to evaluate our products section by section to make sure we have a lower priced item in all key categories.
  • Increasing our Sales - This is where you come in! When you support the store by shopping at the co-op we can increase our sales to get more deliveries from our distributor. As we are able to increase the number of deliveries they can make and the dollars we purchase from them we will have better, more consistent supply and greater volume discounts.
  • Working with Vendors - We will be negotiating with vendors to get lower wholesale prices, more volume discounts, seeking out new suppliers, and lowering prices whenever possible.
  • Sales Programs - our produce department sales program is in effect, check back each week for special deals, our grocery department will be rolling out it’s first sales items on January 14th.
  • More Ways to Save! - We will also be rolling out our Owner Appreciation Days, Sales Program, and Owner Only Specials as outlined on this page. Stay tuned for more details.

We appreciate your support, feedback, and patience. And remember this is your store and your patronage is fundamentally tied to our long term financial health and vitality.

In Cooperation,
Lori Burge
General Manager

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Covid-19 Safety Plan

The health and safety of our Co-op community is our highest priority. As the spread of COVID-19 increases, South Philly Food Co-op is taking action to help protect our patrons and our employees.

Our General Manager and department leadership team will continue to closely monitor guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health officials in our area. The team will rely on their recommendations and expertise to inform our decisions. Based on that advice, we are:

Providing safe social distances: 

  • Limiting the number of shoppers allowed in the store at one time, currently 12 total customers, based on new CDC recommendations.
  • Creating a queue for waiting in line and offering umbrellas to customers outside of the store when we are at capacity inside. 
  • Installing shopping guides and 6 foot social distance markers to ensure good flow and limited customer interactions within the 6 foot social distance recommendations. Following these guidelines is especially critical when the store is crowded,
  • Installing plexiglass barriers to minimize interactions between cashiers and shoppers. 
  • Commissioned the build of a third mobile register to make it easier for customers to get in and out of the store and keep the lines inside the store to a minimum
  • Cancelled in person meetings until further notice, all non-shopping related events with limited exception, will be held virtually until further notice. 
  • At risk shopping our Wednesdays from 9-10 am. 

Offering alternatives to instore shopping: 

  • Are offering an online order service with home delivery (and curbside pick-up, coming soon). Those unable to use the online store may call at certain times to place an order.
  • Are launching a shopper buddy program so that those who are high-risk can get a neighbor to pick up their groceries.

Ensuring cleanliness and proper hygiene: 

  • Requiring that all staff, delivery persons, and patrons over the age of 3 wear a mask in the retail areas of the store.
  • Making hand sanitizer available in the entryway of the store, near the customer bathroom, and in the staff work and break areas.
  • Encouraging staff and customers folks to frequently and diligently perform hand-washing as a means to prevent the spread of germs.
  • Routhine, frequent, and rigorous cleaning of the store and sanitization of all high touch areas will be emphasized and enforced. 

Taking care of our staff: 

  • All staff members have paid time off that they can use in the event that they become sick or need to take leave of absence due to COVID-19.
  • We are working to establish a partnership with Vybe for staff rapid testing. 
  • Staff will have scheduled access to  break areas to ensure safe eating be provided to staff. 
  • Providing a set of reusable cloth masks for staff to use while on shift as well as ample access to disposable masks when a temporary replacement is needed. 
  • Providing a limited hazard-pay premium from opening day through the end of this calendar year. (Contribute to our Hazard Pay Fund so that we can continue this essential benefit into 2021.)
  • We hope to provide hot meals to staff on shift. (Donate local restaurant gift cards to show appreciation for our staff in this busy and difficult time. Email [email protected] to help.)

As circumstances continue to develop, we will make our decisions with the health and well-being of our member-owners, customers, employees, and community as top priority.

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Staff Compensation 2021

Support Our Effort to Raise Wages for Co-op Staff

A special request from your Co-op’s General Manager 

We’ve gotten a few questions about the compensation and benefits package we plan to provide to our staff. Transparency is very important to us, so we wanted to share our answers. We are so grateful that our community shares our desire to pay our amazing team fairly!

Let’s review the package we currently provide, and the package we plan to provide with your support. 

Currently, Clerks earn at least $11/hour and Department Leads earn at least $13/hour. We will offer hazard pay for retail frontline shifts to the extent we can. We will provide health insurance, paid leave, and a store discount. Our workers will have access to professional development too. We set a new employee’s pay based on their experience. We were able to attract very experienced candidates so currently none are set at the base rate for any position. 

We know this isn’t enough and we want more for our staff. We are working hard to bring our wages up and expand our benefits, but we need your support. Keep reading to find out what you can do to help. 

Hazard Pay: Our goal is to raise $12,400 to cover 6,200 hours of hazard pay starting January 1st, 2021 and running through April 30th, 2021. This would double our current hazard pay ($1/hour) and extend that beyond the first month of operation. We are currently searching and applying for grant opportunities, however self-funding is our strongest option for increasing this essential benefit. You can support us by contributing to our Hazard Pay fund today: click here. You will also have the opportunity to contribute to this fund at the register.  

Wages: Our goal is to increase base pay by $2/hr for our entire team, while also increasing our maximum hourly rates. This would be the first incremental step in raising wages even higher in the future. Our Department Managers, staff, and I are working together to realize these goals. We all need to work together to make this possible and that includes our Member-Owners.

Here’s how you can support Co-op staff members:  

  • Pledge to shop at the Co-op and spend your grocery dollars with us in 2021. 
  • Encourage your friends, family, and neighbors to shop with us also (and to become Member-Owners if they aren't already). 
  • Contribute to our Hazard Pay fund.
  • Donate local restaurant gift cards to show appreciation for our staff in this busy and difficult time.

If we can beat our revenue projections by 15% next year, we will be able to sustain the increased wages outlined above. Higher than expected sales will also increase our Co-ops efficiency. An efficient store can afford the best benefits for its team and we can’t do it without you. 

Until we reach our sales goals for a sustained period of time, we will fund Hazard Pay through community donations. We will pay quarterly staff bonuses when we exceed our sales and labor margin goals. This will help bridge the gap, until we are certain our sales are hitting our goals in a sustained way. 

Before I go, a word about accountability. The Board requires me to submit  reports on staff treatment and pay each year. Those reports also include plans to offer better benefits and pay going forward. I look forward to reporting on the accomplishment of these goals, with your help and support.  

Thank you for your continued consideration. We are humbled and inspired by the outpouring of support that our community. Your help allows us to get the store open during this pandemic. We appreciate your commitment to shopping our store and support for our Hazard Pay fund.

In Cooperation and Solidarity, 

Lori Burge

General Manager 

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How to Add Your $100

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2020 Ballot Results

Dear Member-Owners,
On behalf of everyone on the South Philly Food Co-op team, I'd like to extend a heartfelt "thank you" to everyone who participated in our fall 2020 elections by voting and to everyone who attended our Fall GMM on Thursday, 10/01/2020.  It was a record breaking event with a total of 305 households voting and over 156 households registered to attend the GMM with 74 joining by Zoom and others joining via our livestream on facebook. We are thankful for your support! 

All motions were approved. 

Here is the tally: 

Question #1
Motion to adopt the Board recommended revised bylaws

Vote In Favor - adopt revised bylaws 287
Vote Against 6
Abstain (default if nothing selected) 12
Question #2
Motion to approve Fall 2019 minutes

Vote In Favor - approve minutes 266
Vote Against 0
Abstain (default if nothing selected) 36
Question #3
Motion to approve Spring 2020 minutes

Vote In Favor - approve minutes 263
Vote Against 0
Abstain (default if nothing selected) 35
Question #4
Motion to adopt the Board recommended increase to our equity share price

Vote In Favor - increase equity share price 250
Vote Against 44
Abstain (default if nothing selected) 11

Our updated bylaws can be found here.

Here is an FAQ document on why the owner share price was changed from $200 to $300. 

Later today, Friday, October 2nd, we will be sending out information about how existing owners can add their $100 in additional equity to bring their share up to $300 and how new members can join for $300. We will offer an abundance of options including extended installment plans (and a grace period for existing member-owners those that need time to begin making installments toward that additional $100). Those who are member-owners through our Community Equity Fund will see no change. Again, stay tuned for more information. Thank you everyone for your support! 

In Cooperation, 

Chad Hooper, Board President

Lori Burge, General Manager 

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June Update: What's complete and what's to come

Dear South Philly Food Co-op Community,

Thank you all for welcoming me aboard as the General Manager of South Philly Food Co-op! Over the coming months, my goal is to keep you informed of our progress toward opening and invite your thoughts, feedback, and participation along the way. As a community-owned cooperative, community engagement is central to our business.

This is an exciting time because we are transforming our space from a shell into a real grocery store as we enter the tenant improvement phase of construction! This moment is the culmination of an incredible investment of thought, time, and effort on the part of our boards—past and present—our volunteers and our South Philly community.

What’s Complete:  

  • I have reviewed and provided feedback on project plans with our project management team (including hvac, electrical, plumbing, lighting, equipment, etc.)
  • I have been ServSafe certified for food safety so that we can apply for our health license.
  • I am working with our committees: Finance, Facilities, Marketing, Outreach, Food Justice & Equity.
  • Point of Sale (register system) proposals are in!
  • The board adopted over a dozen policies that will guide me in the role of the general manager, our store operations, and establish a mechanism for appropriate oversight.
  • Our website is now hosted on a .COOP domain which will help us differentiate ourselves in the market.

What’s Happening / Coming Up Next:

Read more
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Press Release: Co-op Raises Over $33,000 in 3 Weeks

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, September 24, 2018
Follow us on social: @spfoodcoop

Contact:
Carolyn Huckabay
[email protected]

South Philly Food Co-op Raises Over $33,000 in 3 Weeks

“$60K in 60 Days” Matching Member Loan Campaign Calls on 950+ Member-Owners to Deepen Their Investment in the Co-op

SOUTH PHILADELPHIA, PA — Since September 1, the South Philly Food Co-op has raised $33,800, a momentous start to its fall “$60K in 60 Days” member loan match campaign. Raising $60,000 by October 31 will unlock an additional $30,000 pledge from the Board of Directors, bringing the Co-op even closer to groundbreaking.

The South Philly Food Co-op will be South Philadelphia’s only community-owned grocery store — a place where neighbors can come together for fresh, whole, real food as well as community and food-centric education. It will take $1.14 million to capitalize the Co-op and transform the empty space at 2031 S. Juniper St. into a fully stocked grocery store.

“I'm proud to be part of this community of nearly 1,000 member-owners,” says Leigh Goldenberg, President of the Co-op’s Board of Directors. “By deepening our investment together, we can open our doors in 2019 and provide a neighborhood-centered, neighborhood-powered grocery option unique to South Philadelphia.”

Adds Jamila Medley, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance: “We are thrilled for South Philly Food Co-op's early success in this member loan match campaign. Member loans are an important way to build and sustain a cooperative economy.”

About Member Loans

The Member-Owner Note Program is the core of the Co-op’s capital campaign. It is a way for member-owners to invest in the Co-op, just as they would for any other start-up business. Programs like this have served as a powerful tool for food co-ops across the country.

"As a proud member-owner and investor myself, I am inspired every day by people in our neighborhood choosing to redirect their dollars locally and invest in this critical piece of community-owned infrastructure,” says Emily Wyner, Capital Campaign Organizer. “In a sociopolitical moment when things can feel out of our control, this is something we can truly own together.”

To learn more, visit southphillyfoodcoop.org.

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August 2018 Newsletter

Dear friends,

Big news first: On Wednesday, August 22, the South Philly Food Co-op will host a special meeting of the members, to give our 920 member-owners the opportunity to vote on three proposed bylaw amendments. We'll also share some exciting news about our leadership team and celebrate some big milestones reached in our Capital Campaign!

Read on to learn more, and we hope to see you on the 22nd!

In cooperation,

The South Philly Food Co-op Board of Directors

P.S. Want to help us open sooner? Become a member today, or if you're already a member, deepen your investment through a member loan. Thank you for your support!


UPCOMING EVENTS

August 2: Happy Hour at Pistola's Del Sur

Join us TONIGHT for the latest and greatest in our series of Co-op happy hours! 

A portion of proceeds from select items on Pistola's Del Sur's happy hour member will be donated to the Co-op, so order lots of:

  • Yards Brewing Co. Saison
  • The South Philly Yo-Op (tequila, hibiscus, orange, lime, Champagne)
  • Margherita Coca (flatbread)
  • Traditional guacamole

Plus, our generous hosts (and future neighbors!) have donated a gift card/beer basket for us to raffle off to attendees.

Come for the guac, stay for the cooperation (and beer).


August 22: A Special Meeting of the Members

Save the date: Please join us Wednesday, August 22 for a special meeting of the members!

Come meet our newly minted members of the Board of Directors; learn some exciting news about leadership changes on the Board; and -- most importantly -- vote on three key bylaw amendments. 

Our Board proposes that we:

  • eliminate the requirement that member-owners volunteer 8 hours per year;
  • eliminate the requirement that member-owners attend a member orientation event; and
  • change our Board candidacy qualifications such that adult candidates must only be a member-owner in good standing, for any length of time. 

Voting "yes" on these measures would simply make volunteerism and attendance at an orientation optional; and provide more flexibility in Board development. Our bylaws are available for review here: southphillyfoodcoop.org/bylaws.

You can read more about the proposed bylaw amendments here. Primary member-owners will be receiving an email with an opportunity to vote digitally, or may choose to attend our event on the 22nd to vote in person.

Special Meeting of the Members
Wednesday, August 22, 6-8 p.m.
Location TBD
Facebook event coming soon!


CO-OP LEADERSHIP NEWS

Meet Emily Wyner, Capital Campaign Organizer

We're excited to announce that board member Emily Wyner is stepping into the role of Capital Campaign Organizer! Emily holds a master's degree in organization development and leadership, and focuses her consulting work on capacity building and expansion for mission-driven organizations. You'll be hearing much more from her in the coming months. Want to become a member-owner or deepen your investment through our member loan program? Drop Emily a line! She's treating anyone who reaches out to coffee — and a private store tour, in case you haven't seen the space yet. 

Cate Murray will still be raising funds for the Co-op in the near term with particular emphasis on larger and institutional investors. She's also working on a number of other food-related projects in the area. Follow her on Instagram at @freeandplenty or find her on Wednesday nights at Hale and True, Philly's Best Cidery


Comings, Goings and Leadership Changes on the Board

Our 2018 Board of Directors has officially been sworn in! At our most recent general membership meeting, we re-elected Jessica Calter, Angel D'Ippolito, Anna Kisiel and Emily Wyner; and in a special election last month, the Board also appointed Tanya Seaman! Our 2018-19 officers are:

Leigh Goldenberg, President

Jessica Calter, Vice President

Angel D'Ippolito, Treasurer

Nathaniel Cauldwell, Secretary

Welcome all, and thank you for your service to the Co-op!
Lastly, we'd like to take a moment to say thank you to outgoing Board members Matt Stearn, Katy Travaline and founding president Alison Fritz for your time on the Board. These folks brought tremendous energy, passion, insight and expertise to the table, and will be missed dearly!
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