You may occasionally wonder why something you think needs to be done is not done and some other project takes priority, using funds that, in your own opinion, could be better spent on the need you are perceiving. Good question; here is how it works.
First of all, the board, being fiscally responsible for the overall well-being of the co-op (as opposed to deciding whether to buy potatoes or beets) has a policy in place called the "Ends Policy." This is reviewed each year and is currently stated as:
"Because of BCS, people in Bloomington and South Central Indiana will have: a market for local, organic and healthy products, meeting the needs of consumers and producers; increased cooperative ownership that strengthens the local economy and community; a model of sustainable, profitable business; an increased understanding of the local food system and its importance."
In this past year, each board member also explored what is going on in other co-operatives around the world, from neighborhood stores to large factories and service organizations and even a prison garden center. We wanted to learn how others are using the co-operative business model in a way we have not yet thought of.
Our general manager brings us information each month regarding what is going on in the co-op world, how our own co-op is faring, and reports on one or more of our 23 policies covering everything from asset management to human relationships. He also brings us up-to-date on recent studies consultants have made at our locations as well as member-owner survey results. Our job is to look at these trends and fine-tune our direction so that we are going where our member-owners want us to go.
We also look at the annual Business Plan the general manager has created with the input of key staff and examine quarterly financial statements. Although the general manager makes most of the day-to-day financial decisions, the board must make sure that the co-op stays afloat and that any huge risks are very critically analyzed based on all of the above information. No huge financial decisions are made without a large amount of assessment by outside experts.
How do you as a member-owner have a voice in this process? First of all, you elect the seven board members to serve as your voice. You also have the opportunity to participate in surveys online to tell us what you think. You can read the e-newsletter and/or the Bloomingfoods newspaper to see what we are currently focusing on. You can put comments in the Comment Box at any of our stores. You can talk to staff face-to-face informally. You can attend the Annual Meeting and read the Annual Report. You may also attend any of the monthly board meetings.
Too busy and just want to shop? We are happy to have you do just that. Not everyone wants to be intimately involved even when they own the business. We simply want to let you know that we are here for you, working behind the scenes and doing the best job we can. We have just returned from our annual two-day board retreat where we set the tone for the year ahead. We will keep informing you as we go along and trust that you will continue to guide our decisions by participating in the ways that you can.
Carol Bridges, secretary
for the Board of Directors