Menomonie Market Board Recaps Its Annual Retreat

In April 2019, I was appointed to the Menomonie Market Food Co-op Board of Directors. Being new to the board, I was prepared to spend some time over the upcoming months learning more about the history of the co-op, the specifics of policy governance, and getting to know fellow board members. Instead of gradually encountering opportunities to do these things, I learned at the April board meeting that the day-long annual retreat was coming up right away in May.

Prior to the retreat, we had some homework. Along with a couple of readings, we each wrote a short biography including some stories about what cultivated our interest in supporting a local food cooperative through a voluntary Board of Directors position. Over coffee on a rainy Sunday morning at Crystal’s house, we started the retreat meeting with light-hearted conversation about the biographies. While I failed the quiz questions about my new fellow board members, it was a great way to start getting to know them. While we all come from different places and stages of life, we learned that all had a few things in common, including a passion for a healthy, sustainable local food system, a childhood surrounded by nature, and a love for learning.

The board got to hear about the history of policy governance at the MMFC. We learned that we have some very dedicated, hard-working board predecessors to thank for initiating and implementing policy governance. These dedicated individuals took time over a few years to write policies and figure out how to monitor them. Today, we have a set of policies and a process that the Board uses to monitor policies on an on-going basis. It was noted in a discussion later that morning that we rarely deal with a policy violation because this monitoring process and the MMFC are running so smoothly.

Other tasks completed at the annual retreat included evaluating and updating policies and reviewing Board orientation and procedures. The retreat reinforced my prior understanding that a policy governance model empowers the MMFC’s Board of Directors to focus on big picture issues, specifically those outlined in the Ends Statement:

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

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.

This is where my motivation for participating on the board lie – to support Menomonie Market’s role in being “central to a thriving healthy community.”  As a new board member, I’m honored and excited to learn from current directors. I feel passionate about putting my enthusiasm and knowledge on the relationship of a healthy food system on well-being, disease prevention, and economic sustainability to use for Menomonie Market and our larger community.

If you also have a strong belief that a healthy food system is core to a healthy community, economically and environmentally, consider attending a monthly board meeting to learn more. Join the board and other co-op owners at our 2019 annual meeting on Sunday, September 8th.


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