By Lis Harvey
California’s Davis Food Co-op celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, so we asked if they’d tell us a little about themselves in a Co-op Month guest post. What we got is a look at a co-op that takes the last of the seven Cooperative Principles — concern for community — very seriously. Lis Harvey, head of Brand & Advertising at Davis Food Co-op shares how:
The Davis Food Co-op began in a cozy living room in 1972. Since then, the store has grown into a multi-million dollar corporation serving over 10,000 member households in a town of roughly 65,000. We’re proud of our membership, but even prouder of our community’s level of involvement in the Co-op.
The Co-op is a mission-driven business, guided by “Ends” that are sculpted and upheld by our democratically elected Board of Directors. This year, our Ends state that the Davis Food Cooperative exists to provide our members and community with:
- A thriving, cooperatively owned business
- Access to healthful, sustainable, higher quality, and locally grown and produced foods
- A retail store that satisfies customers
- An improved environment and a more sustainable food system
- Education that leads to informed choices about health, food systems, the environment and cooperatives
Concern for community in action
Beyond our yearly Ends, we also sponsor countless community efforts, from Little League to our Short Term Emergency Aid Committee’s annual Fund-a-Family holiday event, during which families in need are adopted, then given food, clothing and gifts to help warm their winter.
The Co-op also encourages community and education at the organizational level. Our New Parent Network meets Tuesdays in our Teaching Kitchen, with a morning session for infants and an early afternoon session for older children. New Parent Network is a place where parents can feed and cuddle their children, meet and exchange ideas, and have a lovely (free) snack.
Our other Co-op “circles” include a Knitting and Crafting Circle that meets twice a month, a Gluten-Free Group, and a PermaCulture Circle. We started these get-togethers on the heels of our wildly successful Club Vegan, the first of its kind in our county.
Co-op circles are just one way we are able to nurture Davis and draw people closer together. We also offer free classes to K-12 on topics ranging from farming to zero waste, and we aim to be the place folks call when they’ve got a question on topics like food, agriculture or sustainability. It’s just one more way of honoring the seventh principle of cooperatives!
For more on the Co-op, check out its Facebook page.
About the Author: Lis Harvey is in charge of Brand & Advertising at the Davis Food Co-op and a well-known folk musician. (Lis holds the Guinness record for “Fastest to Play A Concert in All 50 States,” doing 52 shows in 60 days in 2002.) She lives in Davis, Calif., with her son and husband.