From the Board: The Co-op: A Place for Everyone

Submitted by:  Barb Button, MMFC Board of Directors

I’ve been shopping at the co-op since we were located in the silver building next to the Pub. I lived in the country then, as did most of my friends, and the co-op was always a stop when I came to town to shop. That store was tiny, run by volunteers, and stocked with bulk bins of dry food. I don’t remember any packaged foods, although there may have been a few. We brought our own containers, and if we forgot, there were clean jars available. We saw familiar faces, both shoppers and volunteers, and knew we had something in common: a shared desire for access to healthy food and and for the ability to select and purchase it on our own terms.

I never dreamed our co-op, or any co-op for that matter, could become a one-stop grocery store, an economic force in the region, a source of education, or the center of a thriving, healthy community.

Of course our new store is miles beyond earlier ones, and forty-some years of growth should produce a robust and vibrant enterprise. But I do marvel at this: we ALL belong to an organization that owns a grocery store.

We own it. The sheer number and diversity of our owners amazes me. It’s reflected in the products we sell (determined by what we purchase), the classes we offer (and fill) but especially in who I see when I shop. Seniors, students, young parents, workers in a hurry. Shoppers not in a hurry, deep in conversation or chatting happily. The hot bar, salad bar and deli serving people grabbing lunch. Families stopping in on Wednesdays for the $4 dinners. The after-work people getting a roasted chicken, or piling one of the sides into a to-go box. All the folks in the dining area meeting each other at the co-op for coffee or meals. People using the wifi, or sharing the newspaper.

We start every Board meeting by taking turns reading our mission statement out loud:

Menomonie Market Food Co-op will be central to a thriving healthy community.

I see that community in the store every time.

Because of us customers have local access to healthy choices for their physical, social, and environmental needs; the local food system is strengthened; the cooperative model is supported; our owners have a vital sense of ownership and belonging; and employees enjoy sustainable, equitable, and dignified employment.

That’s how the Board makes decisions—we hold them up against the mission statement.

See you at the co-op!

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