Co-op and Community

Written by: Board Member, Wayne Cartwright

Our co-op is a community in and of itself, made of people who have come together to create a membership for mutual benefit and shared interests. Our co-op is also part of a larger community, which we can roughly define as Plumas County. On an even larger scale, we can say that our co-op is in the community of co-ops that are in the U.S. and all around the world. As our General Manager, Marcie Wilde, puts it: we are “Committed to Community.”

As far as the community of Plumas County is concerned, our co-op is engaged on a number of different levels and fronts. First, we have community events that we have supported and enjoyed over the years. To name but a few, there are: High Sierra Music Festival, Plumas County Fair, Harvest Fest, Taste of Plumas, Feather River College student orientation, Jolt (the apple juicing), Earth Day, Farmers’ Market, Community Suppers, etc. We have also staged our own events and projects, such as Community Appreciation Days, the garden project, Co-op Explorers, various workshops, road cleanups, etc. Covid curtailed a lot of these community gatherings, so some of them began to feel like distant memories. As Covid wanes, we hope to see all these events fully restored and expanded. Witness the co-op’s recent chili championship at Ground Hog Fever Fest!

A second avenue for our co-op to engage with the Plumas County community is in the form of “donations”. For a number of years, we have had the Round Up at the Register. During 2021 the round-up raised a total of $10,268.18. Each month’s round-up went to a specific organization or project: Quincy Elementary Outdoor Education, Quincy Co-op Preschool, Wild Mountain Herbal Collective, Mountain Valley Charter School Environmental Education, Feather River Land Trust, Fire Safe Council, Bread for the Journey, Plumas Community Hospice, Plumas Art’s Artists in Schools, Cooperative Community Grant, Friends of Plumas Wilderness, and Lost Sierra Mountain Bike Team. The many people who have benefitted from these twelve donations are grateful to the co-op members and patrons who have said “YES” to Round Up at the Register. Our co-op also has a Cooperative Community Fund that amounts to approximately $1,555 per year. Typically, the funds are distributed to a number of applicants, but in 2021 all the money went to the Greenville 4H Club. They lost equipment worth well more than that during the Dixie fire.

During and after the Dixie fire, our co-op stored and distributed food and personal care products for the fire refugees. Our largest supplier, United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) provided food worth $23,888.85 and non-food worth almost $30,000. NOW Foods and Lundberg Rice also made sizable donations. This is just one example of the generous partners that can be found in the co-op universe. 

Our co-op also set up a giving tree whereby members and other customers were able to make fairly large donations at the register, specifically for assisting fire victims. The total raised was $5,347. The money went to Plumas Rural Services and the Plumas Crisis Intervention and Resource Center. Thank you, members and non-members, for being so generous.  Lastly, to support the community in future crises we purchased a full store generator and a refrigerated trailer.  

The cooperative movement has historically concerned itself with economic justice. In co-op speak, it is one of the “ends”, beyond just staying in business. The poet, Maya Angelou, has written: “If it is true that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, isn’t it also true a society is only as healthy as its sickest citizen and only as wealthy as its most deprived?” Our co-op’s mission statement expresses our aim to “provide our community with high quality, affordable foods and products”. To that end we have set up the Affordable Food Program (AFP) to provide a 10% discount on all food purchases made by members that are currently receiving assistance via an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Card. This program has been operating for several years, but has grown slowly to where there are currently just over thirty participants. We are in the process of expanding it to include all co-op members currently enrolled at Feather River College (FRC). We are also hoping to grow the program by designing and printing new brochures, one specifically for FRC students and one specifically for EBT card holders. We intend to ensure that the brochures get better distribution throughout the community. If you know anyone who is eligible to participate in the Affordable Food Program, please urge them to do so.

We would like to thank all of our members for all your support, participation and generosity. It is fundamentally you who have made it possible for our co-op to do all that it does to keep our community “Plumas Strong”.