It’s October, Co-op Month—let’s make a commitment to promoting co-ops throughout 2018!
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 consumer-members 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 half times more business with local farms and producers than conventional stores, and because of we are so integrated into our communities, every $1,000 spent in a US co-op generates $1,600 in returns to their community.
Consumer food co-ops are part of a family of co-ops. Farmers in the greater Sacramento region benefit from their membership in cooperatives, including Blue Diamond for almond growers, and Farmer’s Rice Cooperative for rice farmers. Our local ACE Hardware is part of the ACE cooperative of independent store owners. Davis families gain preschool and child care services through their memberships in one of four local cooperatives. Local artists are able to directly market their creations through their membership in the Davis Artery. Resident-controlled, affordable housing is offered in Davis by 10 mutual and cooperative housing communities. Davis’ newest worker cooperative, Yolo Eco-Clean Co-op creates control and ownership for its worker- members and offers healthful, reliable and quality cleaning services to community members. Consumer-members of Davis’ four credit unions gain the benefits of financial services from businesses whose mission is to serve members rather than generate owner profits.
Meeting member needs is at the heart of cooperative enterprise. Cooperatives are people-powered initiatives that draw their strength from coming together to gain healthy food, a home, quality services, market prominence, and better prices – things that are difficult to gain individually. Cooperatives also stand out because they are democratically governed by owners on the basis of membership rather than dollars invested.