So, let's start by talking real talk. The year 2020 wasn’t that great. A global pandemic, fires, civil unrest, racial injustice, a chaotic election, and economic crisis is a lot for one year. While 2021 might provide hope for some, let’s be honest, there are lots of changes that need to occur to move forward, functionally and equitably, as a nation.
All this heaviness on top of our daily routine and commitments; it can be a lot! It's sometimes easy to get wrapped up in all that needs to be done. It can feel overwhelming, not to mention it can incite feelings of anxiety and depression. Let us try to remember, it's all the little things added together that form and transform the big things. It's one step at a time. It's one deep breath at a time.
This is a friendly reminder to take care of ourselves because we are worth it! Find the time to put self-care on the schedule. Maybe it's making more conscious eating habits, or drinking plenty of water and getting a good night's sleep. Whatever it may be that we need, make time for it. Allow ourselves the time to recharge.
In our community, we have incredible resources at our disposal. We live in a community that has a cooperative natural food store and we are also surrounded by National Forest land. The studies are in. Spending time in nature and eating healthy foods promotes not only physical health but also cognitive health. A recent study, published by the Yale School of the Environment, suggests at least two hours a week in a green space to help improve your immune system, reduce your nervous system arousal, and increase self-esteem, just to name a few known benefits. Eating healthy foods is equally as beneficial. The Harvard School of Public Health conducted a study that suggested eating eight servings a day of fruits and vegetables lowered a person’s risk of heart attack and stroke by 30%!
We have the resources, and the Co-op is here to help support your needs. It's written into our co-operative values. Social responsibility and caring for others are two of the co-op values. The co-op must measure itself according to the well-being of its community and the natural world. Along with having a profound responsibility to the community and nature. Let us take care of ourselves and each other, that's how community is built. It starts with us.
So take the time to pause for self-care. Because you really are worth it!
Love your local Co-op? Run for the Board of Directors! In a year that has undoubtedly challenged us all, the importance of community has been underscored time and time again. Co-ops are founded upon and thrive because of community, and one of the best ways to deepen your commitment and involvement with your Co-op community is to run for a seat on the Board of Directors. Election Handbook materials for the 2021 Board of Directors Election will be available both on our website and within QNFC/FRFC stores by January 1, 2021. Declarations of Interest are due at the close of January 2021. Serving on the Board of Directors allows member-owners to directly participate in the governance and management of the Co-op. Democratic member control is one of the seven cooperative principles we are organized around and participation in the Board is one of the best ways to fulfill that principle. Serving on the Board of Directors in 2020 has been challenging but has afforded an opportunity to give back and help guide the success and sustainability of our Co-op. Two seats are available this election cycle which closes at the end of March 2021 with terms beginning in April of 2021. Prospective candidates are encouraged to submit a Declaration of Candidacy as contained in the Election Handbook. Declarations can be sent to Amber Hughes, Member Service Coordinator, at email@example.com and/or the Board at firstname.lastname@example.org. All member-owners who are in good standing and have been members for at least six months prior to the start of the election on March 1, 2021 are encouraged to consider applying for, and serving on, the Board of Directors. The QNF/FRFC general membership votes for the Board of Directors, themselves member-owners, in annual elections. The QNF/FRFC Board of Directors determines the direction of the organization. If you’ve longed to deepen your commitment to the Co-op and learn the ins and outs of what makes our local Co-op stable, strong, and successful, please consider running for the Board. Member-owners interested in running are encouraged to contact Board members at email@example.com with questions and are welcome to attend our next Board meeting January 19, 2021. A virtual orientation for prospective candidates will be held in January. Our Co-op depends upon community ownership and involvement and serving on the Board has provided an excellent opportunity to demonstrate that. In Cooperation, Aubrey Pickerell, Board Secretary and interim Board Development Committee Chair
August Member Survey Results The Board recently surveyed Co-op member owners about recent changes in store operations due to COVID. As we are all well aware, the past six months since the COVID-19 pandemic hit has been difficult for us all. We as a Board were certainly not prepared for such a thing to happen and navigating the operation of an essential business took a toll on our staff. The Board would like to acknowledge all the staff for their hard work in pulling us through those first few difficult months. Shutting the stores doors was not a decision that was taken lightly. The management chose to stay true to the Co-op’s commitment and mission to provide a desirable and healthy work and shopping environment, and although some felt the closure was unnecessary or too long, ultimately 92% of members surveyed felt the Co-op had put in place sufficient protections for employees and customers. When asked if members had comments or concerns with the store safety measures and procedures, many members commented they were happy the store was open and thanked the staff for their hard work; while others commented that measures were excessive and unnecessary and some asked for more accountability on mask wearing and hand washing. What is most evident is you realize how much you appreciate something when it has been changed or taken away. Kudos to the Management Team for getting the stores opened up and keeping us all safe!
While we were closed the Co-op did offer curbside service and continues to do so. Seventy-two percent of the surveyed members stated they had used and/or continue to use the curbside service, while others stated they plan to take advantage of the service this coming winter. Frequency of curbside use ranged from 47% weekly, 18% twice a week, and 35% infrequently. Currently 83% are solely shopping in the store, with 10% mostly using curbside, and 7% using both equally. In regards to a preference of days for curbside service 66% had no preference, 22% want service 7 days a week, and 12% prefer weekends or Monday, Wednesday, Friday.
When asked if members felt they had been kept well informed of changes in store operations, an overwhelming 65% said yes, while 15% responded negatively, 17% said somewhat, and 3% were uncertain. Many commented they did not feel well informed in the beginning of the pandemic shut-down, but feel better informed now. The Board sympathizes with members on this topic as we were all feeling a bit confused on what, when, and why things were happening. The store management was having to adjust and react to daily changes, so it is understandable that we couldn’t be continually kept up to date before changes had to happen. The Board and Management Team both acknowledge we could have done a better job of communicating with members early on.
When it came to feeling well informed about the Co-op’s finances the answers were more equitably spread. Interestingly for the Board, many said no but felt they could find out if they wanted too. Which is true, but it made us aware that we need to educate members on where they can find that info and how often it is updated. The Co-op finances are reported quarterly and the information can be found in the Board meeting minutes.
Lastly, and related to many of the questions above was our inquiry on the most effective way for the board to communicate with you as members. A third responded by regular email blasts, while 43% said all methods. Comments were related to wanting alternatives to the computer, returning to paper newsletters, and keeping the store Board of Directors bulletin board updated. As an example of how difficult it is to effectively communicate, only 40 members out of 2000+ took this member survey, with 32 responding online and 8 completing a hardcopy survey in the store. Members were entered into a raffle for taking the survey.
Starting in October is Community Appreciation Month! Prior to COVID restrictions we would have celebrated this with a celebratory day at each store, but since we are discouraged from gathering in large groups the Management Team has developed creative ways to celebrate all month long. The Board encourages you to check out the schedule of themed weeks and specials being offered during the month of October and come see us in the store on Oct. 10th at Feather River Food Coop and Oct. 24th at Quincy Natural Foods. We appreciate our community of members and thank you for your support and feedback. -Gia Martynn QNF Board Director/Treasurer
Why our Co-op is more important than ever-- A perspective from Board Member Vanessa About six weeks into the pandemic I saw a quote on social media that really struck a chord. The quote was approximately “the businesses you support now are the businesses that will still be open after the pandemic”. While there are many reasons why businesses succeed or fail it is well documented that 2020 has been particularly challenging for small to medium sized businesses across the US. New regulations, safety requirements, staffing protocols, and a decreased customer base (for most businesses) as we shelter in place has led to stressful times and smaller margins. While most of us have been staying home more our consumption and purchase habits have changed too. Big online retailers that offer a variety of products and quick and free shipping are booming. Because of these troubling trends we need to double down now on our commitment to shop local and support our cooperative grocery store. Quincy Natural Foods and the Feather River Food Co-op is a value driven business. We not only work hard to provide excellent products, great customer service, and convenient shopping, but we also work hard to sell local, healthy products, support sustainable agriculture, provide good jobs with opportunities for advancement, and to be a leader in business excellence in Plumas County. A co-op is made from the values and people within its community. Our members are resilient and creative and value a triple bottom line—economic sustainability, ecological sustainability, and social responsibility/sustainability. Sure you can get similar products on Amazon and have them shipped to your door, but when you buy from the co-op you are supporting 32 wonderful employees and their families, along with and local and regional farmers, ranchers, bakers, brewers, and more. Plus our co-op offers a 10% discount to qualifying low-income members anytime they shop (learn more about our Affordable Food Program). Big Box stores don’t do that. As a member of the co-op board I can tell you that the pandemic has led to a lot of learning in the co-op world. In retrospect, we now know that we should have been more proactive in communicating with our members as quick decisions for store operations had to be rolled out. We have learned from our shortfalls and we hope that your shopping experience is now (and always) pleasant and rewarding. I’d also like to thank all of the members who reached out to us this spring and summer to give us valuable feedback. Our learning as a board and business was greatly informed by you. While our co-op is rebounding well and financially sound as I write this article, I’d like to invite you to support our two beautiful stores as much as you are able. Where we put our energy now is what will grow and prosper for the future. Together we are co-creating the vital community we want for ourselves and the next generations. Want to get more involved in the co-op? Attend the next virtual board meeting on Tuesday, September 15th at 5pm. Email Amber at firstname.lastname@example.org for the log-in information.
Sincerely, The QNF/FRF Co-op Board of Director
July 31st 2020 Board Development Update Diane McCombs and Phil Sih have resigned from their positions on the Board of Directors. We thank them both for their service to the Co-op and wish them well in their future endeavors. The board is working to fill the vacancies as quickly as possible.
Sincerely, The QNF/FRF Co-op Board of Director
June 12th 2020
Co-op Management Update As many of you have already heard, our General Manager, Andrea Wilson, is on medical leave (non-COVID related!). She hopes to return within a month and will be checking in with the Board at three weeks to update us on her progress. In the meantime, per Co-op policy, the Board has appointed an Interim General Manager (IGM) during Andrea’s absence. The Employee Handbook policy identifies the Human Resources (HR) Manager to serve as the IGM if the General Manager (GM) must take temporary leave for any reason. Andrea recommended we designate the HR Manager as the IGM during her leave per the policy. The HR Manager had indicated they were willing to serve in this capacity on a temporary basis. The Co-op’s HR Manager is Nova Kolpin. For those of you not familiar with Nova, she was hired as our new HR Manager last fall. Given Nova’s recent hire to the Co-op, and all the changes and uncertainty during this time, as well as hearing our member-owner concerns and suggestions, the Board wanted to address concerns as to whether she had the qualifications and experience to manage the Co-op during this time. To aid in the Board’s final decision, we hired an outside third-party co-op consultant with Columinate to interview the management team, and based on those interviews, make a recommendation to the Board for assigning the IGM. Reviewing the consultant’s summary of interviews and recommendation, the Board deliberated and ultimately concluded to go with the consultant’s and Andrea’s recommendation to designate the HR Manager, Nova Kolpin as the IGM. Additionally, the Board has also brought in Lucinda Berdon, former QNF GM, to mentor Nova and provide consulting support to the management team until Andrea’s return. Lucinda’s services will begin on Sunday, June 14th. The Board is appreciative of Lucinda’s willingness to help during this time and provide some extra support and oversight to lighten the load on all. We would like to acknowledge all the Co-op staff for their tireless commitment and hard work during this difficult time. We wish Andrea a speedy recovery and look forward to her return. More days and longer store hours…stay tuned! In response to our member-owners and service to the community, the Board wants you to know the management team is working hard to resume more regular store hours at both locations. Please stay tuned for the announcement of expanded days and hours coming soon. For those who continue to use the curbside services do not worry, your gratitude and needs have been heard and curbside service will be maintained. Participate in the upcoming Annual Meeting. In the meantime, please feel free to share with us and the staff how the current in-store shopping experience is working or not working for you, as well as the continued curbside service. We will be hosting the Annual Meeting via Zoom in two weeks on June 27th. Please join us to hear how the Co-op did in 2019, what the current status and future plans are for 2020, ask questions, and share your thoughts. To RSVP for the annual meeting go to http://qnf.weebly.com/annual-meeting-rsvp-2020.html You may also contact the board at email@example.com. We appreciate and value your continued support.
Sincerely, The QNF/FRF Co-op Board of Director
June 3rd 2020 We know many of you are wondering… What is going on at the Co-op? As you are aware, there have been many changes in the last two months: from moving to curb-side only, to the Portola Store closing for a month, to reinstating curb-side at Portola, and now reopening to in-store shopping with different strategies for the two store locations. These decisions have been a combination of necessity based on a sudden reduction in available staff, including those with positions not easily replaced with new or temporary hires, as well as a commitment to keep the employees and community safe by slowing the spread of COVID-19 virus while still providing an essential service. We strive to do what is best for our member-owners, the community, our business, and our employees. During these times, it has been challenging to bring all of these goals into alignment and meet all needs at the same time. Some member-owners have expressed they feel the measures are excessive given that, so far, Plumas County has had only 4 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and all have recovered. Some have expressed gratitude for the curb-side service which allows them to shop while feeling safe from risk of exposure, as well as feeling employees are being kept safe from exposure. Some member-owners have expressed concern for the financial well-being of the business. Different views as to what safe means or looks like, and how an essential business should operate during a pandemic have been expressed. We hear you, and we are here for you. While sales have been down compared to last year and the impact of the Portola store closing for a month was felt, our bank accounts are still at a healthy level. Management and staff acted swiftly to adapt buying practices, utilize labor efficiently, and respond to changes in product demand and availability. Perishable foods in the Portola store were not left to waste as some have feared, but were transferred to and sold from the Quincy store. We now know more about the virus, about the viability of curb-side only service, and about the needs of our member-owners and community. We are implementing safety measures and equipment and developing procedures that will allow the store to operate safely during a pandemic. We are focused on the future and on our mission. This is a dynamic time with the potential for circumstances to change quickly. The board is working with management to develop a strategy to best serve the varied needs of our member-owners and community during this time while maintaining financial viability and adhering to federal, state, and county guidelines, recommendations from health agencies, and our values as a cooperative. We want to hear from you! Please contact the board at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know how the Co-op can best serve you during this time. We appreciate and value your continued support.
Sincerely, The QNF/FRF Co-op Board of Director
269 Main St. Quincy CA 95971 | Monday - Saturday 7am - 8pm, Sunday 8am - 7pm | 530.283.3528 60 N. Pine St. Portola CA 96122 | Monday - Saturday 9am - 6pm, Sunday 10am- 5pm| 530.832.1642