October is National Food Co-op Month!
As October marks National Food Co-op Month, it is important to place emphasis on the theme of “Owning Our Identity”, encouraging contemplation on the distinctive attributes that set cooperative enterprises apart within the commercial sphere. Throughout this period, members seize the occasion to delve into the multifaceted roles inherent to the cooperative, actively contributing to the cultivation of more inclusive, resilient, and environmentally sustainable food ecosystems.
In a pivotal development, board member Richard Mausert disclosed a tentative location for the forthcoming Electric City Food Co-op (ECFC), slated for Erie Blvd. in the heart of Downtown Schenectady, positioned adjacent to Schenectady Hardware and Electric. However, it is crucial to underscore that this locale is still subject to finalization pending approval from Schenectady Metroplex.
“We at ECFC are hopeful that the details can be worked out and we will be opening a state of the art Community Food Store in downtown Schenectady,” said Mausert. “The site services our needs for a building between 8,000 and 10,000 square feet close to public transportation, along with an area to provide parking. Erie Blvd. has very good traffic and the site is easy to drive to.”
The enthusiasm to have the ECFC to be within the downtown Schenectady area is shared amongst the board, committees, and the general members.
“I’m excited about the possibilities this site makes available for our food cooperative. It is close to the new Gateway Transit hub which will bring 10 bus lines within less than a block of the grocery site. With high-density apartments, SUNY Schenectady dorms, and the medium-density Stockade neighborhood nearby, many people will be able to walk there easily,” said Eric Johnson, president for the Electric City Food Co-op, in an email.
“Since we’re close to 890, regional farmers, producers and grocery shoppers can reach the site easily, too. There are not many locations in downtown Schenectady that would accommodate a full service grocery, and this is one of them. Plus, we’re excited about opportunities to collaborate with the SEAT Center and SUNY Schenectady, especially through their culinary programs. There is a great deal of work to do with the City and County to firm up this location, and we are very encouraged from the feedback we’ve gotten from our municipal partners as well as Metroplex.”
Johnson also emphasized the cooperative’s commitment to providing meaningful, compensated employment for the Schenectady community, a different method to what most co-op usually implement in their operations.
“We’re excited to offer fair compensation through our cooperative business, recognizing the significance of local job creation for the City and County of Schenectady,” said Johnson.
Johnson stated that while volunteer participation is important, the co-op recognizes that not all members can commit consistently. He affirmed the principle of allowing all Member-Owners to participate in the governance of the community-owned grocery store, independent of volunteerism or discounts. Johnson pointed out that although volunteering is often linked with food cooperatives, it is not a universal standard and may inadvertently create socio-economic divisions. He commended the co-op’s robust volunteer support, crediting the leadership team’s dedication. Johnson expressed enthusiasm for generating paid employment and detailed a system of “patronage refunds” based on member spending, aimed at encouraging continued patronage. This strategy is designed to bolster the community and demonstrate the potential of cooperative economic development.
As the ECFC is getting their project off the ground, they launched a fundraiser drive called “The Dream Team Fund”, to help them achieve their first milestone of paying for their implemention into the National Cooperative Grocerers, to show their commitment to their mission. Their goal is to raise $42,000 to cover this cost and to donate to this fund, you can visit the link here: https://donorbox.org/the-dream-team
Also during this meeting, board members conveyed their intention to explore a brand refresh. Subsequently, the board initiated a survey to facilitate member input on the impending rebranding initiative.
The survey will be open until the end of October and if you want your input included go here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdXb qKNBSN15qN4suP5IRbXg06a28swENp7r1vvEV8VMGdqfA/viewform
Click through this presentation to: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1Rd3imn8MKwsKiiRlrqT8C1tL9f5Dpjirl2MOHWhURCg/mobilepresent?slide=id.g288ff01f8f1_0_275
Are you interested in joining the Electric City Food Co-op? Read below for more details
Opportunity to participate:
A new, community-owned grocery store is coming to downtown Schenectady – And you can be a part of it right now!
- Become a Member-Owner
This is the fastest way to get us open! Although everyone will be welcome to shop at the co-op, only Member-Owners enjoy ownership and governance rights. For a one-time $25 fee, click here to join
- Join a Committee
As we get closer to securing a site & building the store, we need your help! We are currently recruiting for the Social and Environmental Responsibility Committee – so bring your passion or your expertise! (Or both!) Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
- Follow them on Social Media
Or visit their website: electriccityfood.coop
Opportunity to learn more
If you’ve ever wondered how people in your community might work together to solve shared problems, to provide themselves with desired goods and services, to cooperatively control their own businesses, this is your chance! Join us for this introductory session as we explore the world of cooperative enterprise