October is Co-op Month! Co-op Month has been celebrated annually across the United States for more than half a century. It is a time for cooperative businesses to reflect on their shared principles and to educate others about the value of belonging to a cooperative.
The theme for this year’s Co-op Month is “Co-ops Commit: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion,” highlighting how co-ops like ours are working to create diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces and boards, and how co-ops can better meet the needs of communities that have been excluded from economic participation and advancement.
We’re also celebrating Co-op Month in 2020 by promoting the Littleton Food Co-op Community Fund! During the month of October, all of the Round-Up dollars donated at the register will go towards our fund, with support from the Cooperative Community Foundation. Learn more about our Community Fund.
Across the Northeast, people have used food co-ops to improve access to healthy, local, affordable food, and build stronger, more inclusive communities. Most of these grocery stores got their start during times of social and economic change, enabling people to access healthy food, support local producers, and provide good jobs. More recently, a new wave of startups has been growing, representing a renewed interest in food security, and racial and economic justice. Today, the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) includes 40 food co-ops and startups, jointly owned by more than 150,000 members and employing over 2,350 people. Together, these co-ops generate shared annual revenue of nearly $347 million, with local products representing close to a third of total sales.
Food co-ops are not alone in their contribution to more inclusive and resilient local communities. Co-ops are everywhere, and they provide all kinds of products and services. From farmer co-ops to worker co-ops, credit unions to mutual insurance, and housing co-ops to energy co-ops, co-operative businesses thrive across the U.S. economy, where 350 million people are co-op members. Nationwide, co-ops generate $514 billion in revenue and more than $25 billion in wages, according to NCBA CLUSA. And because they are member-owned, co-operatives are rooted in their communities and governed by the people who use them to meet their needs, rather than outside investors. Learn more in this great little video:
Stop by Littleton Co-op, or a nearby co-op if you’re not from our area, and learn more about what makes co-operatives different. Look for the “Go Co-op” signs on the shelves that identify products that were “co-op made”. You may be surprised by what you find, including dairy products from Cabot Creamery Co-op 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 La Riojana wines, seeds and bulbs from FEDCO, naturally fermented vegetables from Real Pickles, Northeast Grown frozen fruits and vegetables from your Neighboring Food Co-ops — and many others!