"How do we give back to the community rather than just take from it?" This was one of the concepts explored in Part Two of the film Food for Change, which we viewed at our recent board meeting. Many co-ops were started in the early 1970s to counteract the takeover of the food business by large corporations. At that time, two million farmers had been driven out of business, six million taken over by agribusiness.
The cooperative movement was a non-violent pursuit of a better way of doing things. With high ideals and not much economic savvy at the time, 800 co-ops were started. That number declined to 200 until the recent "third wave" of new start-ups. People again want to take back control of their lives. They especially want to see their local areas prosper. We want to make sure that everyone is fed and fed well without the increased dangers of contamination, delay or just plain "no food today" due to transportation problems or catastrophe.
We are very fortunate in Bloomington to have numerous organizations which offer free meals to those who need them. Bloomingfoods is an ongoing contributor of free food to a number of these. At the same time, we do our best to provide reasonable prices on all of the groceries we sell in our stores while providing the highest quality available to us. Sound simple?
Actually, it is quite a challenge to satisfy the wide range of needs and opinions of 10,000 member-owners. Understanding this, the board continues to look into ways that other co-ops are helping feed low-income families while still providing all the specialties everyone desires. Our community involvements are huge, everything from food donations to serving at events to helping other co-ops start up, all this while running three...soon to be four...stores. At the same time, we want to be the friendly little neighborhood grocery, fresh, alive, wholesome and fair.
It is only with your cooperation that this is possible. It is your friendliness in the store, your routine patronage, your financial support, your caring and involvement in the life of the stores that keeps us feeling like we are filling this spot in your life, the "third place," the place where you come to be nourished in every way a small neighborhood grocery can provide. Keep talking to us. We will keep listening.
Carol Bridges, Secretary
Secretary, BCS/Bloomingfoods Board of Directors
From the movie Food for Change: "If organic farming is the natural way, shouldn't organic produce just be called "produce" and make the pesticide-laden stuff take the burden of an adjective?"