October, Co-op Month, is used across the US as a launching pad for promoting and educating people about the cooperative business model.
Cooperatives are used in many different ways, in many types of industries, and all share in common that they are member-owned and democratically controlled. Cooperatives offer a structure that people use to accomplish together what they may not be able to do one their own.
At the Davis Food Co-op (DFC), we owner-consumers own and govern our store. We gain healthy food and products at as reasonable a price as possible. Our ownership creates a store that is distinctly different than conventional stores. For example, the DFC does not operate focused on profit for a few; we operate to serve members, and the DFC board has established policies that include the promotion of living wages for our employees and purchasing from local sources. In fact, nationwide consumer food co-ops do two-and-a-half times more business with local farms and producers than conventional stores, and because we are so integrated into our communities, every $1,000 spent in a US co-op generates $1,600 in returns to their community.
Another very important aspect of cooperative governance is Democratic Member Control:
“Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions. The elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary cooperatives, members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote) and cooperatives at other levels are organized in a democratic manner.”
Towards this end, beginning with the 2020 Election, the DFC will move to Online-Only Voting.
When the DFC first introduced online voting together with paper ballots, the number of owners voting went up. It is our expectation that our promotion of online-only voting will encourage more owners to vote, particularly with the introduction of in-store online voting booths.
Online-only voting also supports the co-op principle of Concern for Community. The community will be better served by a more environmentally sustainable paperless election. A lot of paper has been wasted by sending paper ballots to those who ultimately vote online or to those who have moved and not given the DFC a forwarding address. It is not only wasteful but expensive, when you consider the money spent on paper, printing, and postage.
The Board is excited about joining the more than 2000 organizations using the company Simply Voting to conduct their elections, whose systems have been proven secure and efficient.
Please feel free to contact us if you have questions about this important change.