What are Ends and why are they important? Our Co-op’s Ends policies are governance policies formulated by the Co-op’s Board of Directors to reflect shareholders’ values and aspirations for our Co-op. Ends policies state the Board purposes of the Brattleboro Food Co-op: what we are trying to accomplish and for whom. The Ends explain our reasons for existing and lay out the desired future toward which we would like the Co-op, under the leadership of the General Manager, to work; in the work of the Board, the Ends are some of the ways that the Board monitors and assesses the General Manager’s performance. Ends are not necessarily immediately achievable; rather, they are often long term because they describe the kind of organization we want.
Old Ends and the rationale for change
The current Board’s work on the Ends Policies, many of which we have had in place for 30+ years, began in 2020. This Board created the Ends Ad Hoc Committee, and charged it with taking a fresh look at the Ends to see if they reflect our current values and providing a rationale for changing them, or keeping them as they are. The current Ends are:
- Reasonably priced food and products with an emphasis on healthy, locally grown, organic, and fairly traded goods
- A welcoming community marketplace
- A workplace community where cooperative values are modeled
- A regenerative business that has a net positive environmental impact
- A sustainable local economy
- Relevant information about food and related products, the environment, and the Cooperative Values and Principles
- Reasonable access to participation in the cooperative
The committee recommended making changes to the Ends. Its rationale contained two key points: First, having seven Ends is a lot: The current cooperative market trend is toward a single statement (or two) that is sufficiently broad. The second point was based on a conversation with the GM: the current seven Ends overlap to a certain extent and compliance data can be used for more than one End, thus causing frustration for both GM and Board. The GM believed it would support her work better if the redundancy was removed.
The committee has created three Ends that more succinctly express the values and aspirations of the Co-op. Listed here are the proposed Ends followed by a short explanation.
- Shareholders have an inclusive community-owned food hub that celebrates and supports the ways they cook, eat, and share food.
Cooperative groceries have many stakeholders who are connected through purchasing, distributing, selling, and eating food. All these groups and their food cultures come together at the Co-op.
- Shareholders’ and shoppers’ needs are met for affordable, local and environmentally-friendly food and products.
The Co-op is part of a broader, diverse community, and what the co-op strives for is to offer food and products that appeal across this community.
- The community invests in a grocery store that stewards the money, people, land, and resources entrusted to it.
Cooperatives offer an alternative to other forms of business that remove resources from the community. The Brattleboro Food Co-op strives to keep resources in the community for the benefit of all. We support local farmers and producers, community organizations, and we are collectively owned by people who live, work and/or shop here. The Co-op has a responsibility towards these resources – all people and dollars, and place.
The Ends Ad Hoc Committee would like your feedback. Have we missed something important to you? Can you see your values reflected in these Ends statements?
We would appreciate your answers to the two questions. The article with the proposed new Ends will be available in Food for Thought, the e-newsletter, and in the Board section of the BFC website. Please send your thoughts to EndsFeedback@bfc.coop. We are also considering additional ways of hearing from you in person. Please look out for further information about that in the store.