In a world where corporate giants dictate our choices, where every dollar we spend seems to feed into a system that values profit over people, it’s easy to feel like just another cog in the machine as you make your purchases. This feeling may become most prevalent with our most frequent purchases, food and groceries. But what if your grocery store was more than an obligatory stop? What if it could be a statement of your values, a contribution to your community, and a step towards a more equitable and sustainable world?
Let us welcome to the Davis Food Co-op, a grocery store that’s about so much more than just food.
As a college student, you’re not just learning, you’re actively shaping your world. Every decision you make, from your field of study to where you shop, is a reflection of your values and the future you want to create. Are you passionate about environmental sustainability? We prioritize local, organic produce and work hard to minimize waste. Concerned about workers’ rights? We’re committed to fair wages and good working conditions, both for our own employees and for the employees of our vendors. Want to support your local economy? We source seasonally from local farmers and producers whenever possible and carry products from over 500 local brands in store. The Co-op is made of a group of individuals who believe in the power of collective action, who care about fostering a sustainable food system, supporting local farmers, and promoting healthy, ethical choices. We are your neighbors. We are the people you see every time you go for a walk, a bike ride or a trip to the farmers market early on a Saturday morning. We are your community.
When you walk into the Davis Food Co-op, you’re not walking into a sterile, impersonal supermarket. You’re walking into a community hub.
You’re likely to see familiar faces, maybe even friends. You’ll find staff who are more than just employees – they’re individuals who care about their work, their community, and their world.
But the sense of community goes beyond the walls of our store. As a co-op, we’re deeply connected to our local community. We host events and classes, fostering connections and shared learning.
We give back to our community, supporting local causes and initiatives. And most importantly, we listen to the feedback of our customers, most of whom are Member-Owners who not only shop with us, but also own a piece of our business.
Anyone can shop at the Davis Food Co-op but joining as a Member-Owner means you’re not just talking about these ideals, you’re living them. Being an Owner means that you are making a small investment ($15 to start) to be extended rights, responsibilities, and influence to thrive as part of our store and community. You gain access to a myriad of extra promotions and programs, access to issued dividends, and the right to help choose the direction of the cooperative. You can vote, attend meetings, serve on the Board of Directors, track all of your purchases online, and much more. As part of the Co-op, you have an even greater say in our practices and policies. You can help us decide what products we stock, what initiatives we support, and how we can better serve our community. You become part of a cooperative that values transparency and mutual respect. Unlike traditional grocery stores, our goal isn’t to maximize profits. Our goal is to use our profit to serve our Members and our community in the ways that they best see fit. And since we understand that not everyone can stay in Davis long-term, we offer the ability to Member-Owners to be refunded their investment at any time, no questions asked.
Let’s take a moment to contrast this with your typical corporate grocery store. When you shop at one of these stores, your money goes towards lining the pockets of distant shareholders. Your choices are dictated by what will maximize their profits, not what’s best for everyone as a whole. The products on the shelves are there because they’re cheap to produce and yield high profit margins, not because they’re good for your health or the environment. The workers you see in the store are often paid minimum wage, with little regard for their well-being or job satisfaction. In these stores, you’re not a valued member of a community, you’re a consumer. Your value is measured in dollars, your voice is systematically silenced through purposefully inept and complex bureaucracy. There your values are only considered while planning their exploitation, and your community is slowly drained.
Now, imagine a different kind of grocery store. Imagine a store where your voice matters, where your values are reflected in the products on the shelves, where your money goes towards supporting your local store and community rather than distant shareholders. Imagine a store where your value is intrinsic to you for simply being. That’s the Davis Food Co-op. When you join us, you’re not just joining a grocery store. You’re joining a community. You’re working towards creating a better, more sustainable world. So, if you’re ready to keep moving forward, to align your actions with your values, we invite you to join us. Join the Davis Food Co-op, and let’s make a difference together.
For more information on how to become a Member-Owner, visit https://davisfood.coop/ownership-info/
or the Customer Service Desk in store.
Our society should work for everyone
This should not be as lofty of a goal as it is made out to be. And yet, this simple idea must work through a web of institutional failures that we are tasked with undoing and fixing in order to become a reality. This work requires, among many other aspects, a firm commitment to democracy on both a national and local level.
A strong democratic society ensures that all voices are heard, resources are allocated equitably and decisions are made in the best interest of the entire community instead of just a select few. The ways in which a community can uphold democracy are extensive. Quality education and information sharing, political representation that reflects the identity of the community, and open public forums that encourage healthy debate are a few of the examples that may come to mind first. In addition, (and we may be biased on this) one of the most effective ways for a community to practice democracy is through the building and sustaining of local cooperatives.
Cooperatives (aka co-ops) are community-owned and operated groups and businesses that are democratic by nature. Whether they are a consumer, producer, agricultural, worker, housing, or any other type of co-op, their democratic processes prioritize shared decision-making which ultimately creates a more equitable distribution of resources. By giving Members/Owners a say in how the business or group is run, cooperatives ensure that the community’s needs are met in a way that benefits everyone in the collective.
Consumer grocery co-ops (like us!), in particular, can play a significant role in keeping communities democratic. These stores not only provide access to fresh, local, and healthy food, they operate under a cooperative model that give Owners a say in how the business is run, ensuring that it always serves the needs of the community. This means that a grocery co-op can be more than just a grocery store; it can be a pillar in their city that makes decisions around philanthropy, sustainable practices, inclusion, and more that help define the community in a way that traditional corporations often cannot, or will not.
As a community-owned store that started as a buying club in 1972, the Davis Food Co-op is proud to play a significant role in promoting democracy and equity throughout our organization as well as in the City of Davis and Yolo County at large. We believe that democracy is an essential part of establishing a just and equitable society and we know that process begins in our own community. By giving our Owners the ability to vote and run for our Board of Directors, we ensure that the entire community’s needs are addressed in the business decisions that we make. By promoting shared decision-making and a commitment to the greater good, our co-op can continue to build a future where our community works to serve everyone and can hopefully inspire others to strive for more control over their resources and decision-making as well.
As of the posting of this blog on 5/11/23, we are currently in the process of our Annual Elections. From now until 5/20/23, Davis Food Co-op Owners have the opportunity to vote online for three new Board Members as well as four new Round Up at the Register recipients. To sweeten the deal even more this year, we will be raffling off a $100 gift card to a lucky Owner simply for voting. For more information, visit our Elections page here.
Not yet an Owner but want to learn how you can become one? Visit us in store at the Customer Service Desk or at our Ownership page here.
As a member of the Davis Food Co-op, have you ever stopped to consider the role that the board of directors plays in ensuring the success and sustainability of the organization?
The board serves as the governing body, responsible for setting the vision and direction of the Co-op, ensuring it remains true to its values and mission. Think of the board as the roots of a great tree. They provide stability while carefully guiding the path its growth will follow, keeping the Co-op grounded and simultaneously reaching ever higher.
Being a member of the Cooperative’s board of directors is about more than just fulfilling a leadership role. It’s a chance to make a positive impact on your community and be a part of something bigger than yourself. It’s an opportunity to use your skills and experiences to support the values and goals of the Co-op, and to work with others who share your commitment to making a difference.
Serving on the board also offers personal growth opportunities. You’ll have the chance to develop valuable skills such as business acumen, management experience, financial literacy, strategic thinking, and teamwork. And as a thank you for your efforts, Co-op board members receive a 16.5% discount on all their purchases at the store!
So, what does it take to be a member of the Co-op’s board of directors? First and foremost, it requires a commitment to the values and goals outlined in the Co-op’s Ends Statement. Board directors volunteer their time and energy for a term of three years, dedicating approximately 15-20 hours per month to meetings, committees, and other Co-op-related activities. This includes attending monthly board meetings, serving on at least one committee or task force, and participating in the annual ownership meeting and retreat.
In addition to these regular commitments, board directors are also expected to participate in board training and other workshops, conferences, and Co-op events throughout the year. They should also be prepared to read and respond to email correspondence, as well as learn about the co-op movement and Policy Governance decision-making. Board directors are active and engaged members of the Co-op, and most importantly they are willing to listen to and represent the needs and concerns of the Co-op’s members.
If you’re interested in making a positive difference in your community and being a part of something bigger than yourself, serving on the board of directors at the Davis Food Co-op may be the perfect opportunity. It requires a commitment to the co-op’s values and mission, as well as a willingness to devote time and energy to meetings, committees, and other co-op-related activities. But the rewards – both personal and for the community – are well worth it!
2021 Annual Meeting Q&A
The 2021 Davis Food Co-op Annual Meeting took place via Zoom on Thursday May 6, 2021. During the course of the meeting, the General Manager and Board of Directors presented an annual report for the 2019-2020 fiscal year. Owners were also given the opportunity to ask questions. Below is a copy of our Annual Report (which can also be found at the Customer Service Desk) as well as the Owner questions that were asked and the corresponding answers to those questions.
The Davis Food Co-op Board of Directors proudly announces that the vacant General Manager position has been filled by Interim General Manager, Laura Sanchez. Filling in as the Interim General Manager since May 2020, Laura has successfully guided the Co-op during a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically impacted the store’s operations. The Board of Directors received hundreds of applications and conducted numerous interviews, but it was she who stood out among them all as the best fit for the position. Following the approval of Laura’s new position at the Board Meeting on December 18, 2020, Co-op Board President Sharon Tobar welcomed Laura to her new position with this statement:
“In a year of so many challenges, Laura has been a strong and steady guiding hand. In her prior two years of experience at the Co-op. – first as Store Operations Manager and most recently as Interim General Manager — Laura has demonstrated the leadership skills, operational expertise, commitment, and vision that we need to take the Co-op to the next level of excellence. We look forward to a long and fruitful relationship.”
Laura has worked in retail over the course of 20 years. Throughout 14 of those years, she was at Target Corporation in the Sacramento and Roseville areas. She held several Executive Team Lead roles that included Guest Experience, Salesfloor, Logistics and Operations. She started with the Co-op in December of 2018 as the Operations Manager and was ultimately named as the Interim General Manager when the position became vacant. In regards to her time in this position, she noted:
“In my time as Interim General Manager, I have learned that it is important to stay true to the values and the Ends that the Davis Food Co-op is based on. What makes the Co-op so special is that it is owned by the community and is here to truly serve its community”.
With experience in the role under her belt, Sanchez is eager to set goals that will allow the Co-op to thrive for years to come:
“We want to continue our focus on enhancing the skills, training, and spirit of our workforce – on whom the success of the Co-op depends. We will continue the upgrades of our store facility, develop new on-site solar and battery energy storage to enable operations during grid outages, and further expand our product offerings in response to the needs of our Member-Owners. With the ongoing pandemic, the community needs us now more than ever, and we will be ready to meet those needs.”
Laura Sanchez’s first official day as General Manager of the Davis Food Co-op was January 1, 2021. No longer holding an Interim status and looking forward to the new year, Laura wanted to take the opportunity to thank everyone who has played a part in the transition to this new role:
“On a personal note, I am so grateful to the Board and community for their confidence in me and our amazing staff. I’m looking forward to 2021 as a truly great year in the evolution of the Davis Food Co-op.”
Every couple of months, we will be interviewing one of our Board Members so that you can get to know them better! This month, we are featuring J. Faye Dixon.
Some other answers from Faye:
How do you take your coffee?
I am a green tea drinker! But I do love a good espresso drink.
Proudest accomplishment in the last year?
I was promoted to Full Professor at UCD
Favorite area park?
Central (especially back when we still had live music)
Favorite thing about your favorite person?
Sense of humor
What did you want to be when you were little?
A translator for the UN
How do you stay healthy?
Running, walking, yoga and pilates
Favorite place you’ve traveled (provide a photo if possible!)?
Too many to name but the picture above is from Seville, Spain.
Welcome to the Fall Season!
Now that Fall is here, we would like to give a shout out and welcome to all of the UC Davis students starting the 2020-21 school year. Our city has felt so empty without the vibrance of the students and we are happy to finally see returning and new students bringing back life to the community.
It’s been a while since the board updated you on what we have been up to. The board has been working together with staff, behind the scenes to adapt to all of the new changes in our world. We have missed interacting with the community in the many events that typically take place at this time of year and look forward to when we can resume these in person.
To help keep safe during this pandemic, the board transitioned to virtual board meetings that Davis Food Co-op owners are welcome to attend. Dates of the meetings and details on attending virtually are on the Board section of our website, towards the bottom of the page. We would love to see you at our monthly meetings!
As many already know, we had a changing of the guards with our General Manager in June. As we said goodbye to Prassanna Regmi, our Operations Manager Laura Sanchez assumed the role of Interim General Manager and we are happy to say that this transition has gone very smoothly. The Board is now seeking qualified candidates to hire as the new permanent General Manager. If you or someone else you know is interested and feels they are qualified, please refer to the job posting here.
And speaking of more changing of the guards, during the summer we gained a new board member who we would like to introduce to you. Please check them out below and give them a round of virtual applause for joining our board.
Dear Davis Food Co-op Members,
I hope this letter finds you and your household well.
“Stay at Home” orders keep us safe, but for some it can be isolating. At times like this, it can help to recognize the many community connections we have, and one of those is your membership with the Davis Food Co-op. Membership is more than being a shopper, it means that you share store ownership with other members of the store.
Davis Food Co-op elections open on May 7, 2020. This year we have three candidates running to serve on the board. The Board of Directors oversees the Co-op, and implements policies on your behalf. Board members are democratically elected by Davis Food Co-op member-owners.
This year, all elections will be online (you can also do this in the store if you prefer). The Co-op has contracted with a reputable company to manage voting and to tabulate the results. This method of voting is kind to the environment, economically efficient, and secure.
I understand that there are many distractions at this time so I want to reach out and ask—will you please take the time to vote by May 21, 2020?
Sharon Tobar President