Ashland Food Co-Op Is There for You
How quickly things have changed in our beautiful little mountain town. The smell of local restaurants firing up their ovens for another busy dinner crowd has turned into a distant aroma. The busy buzz of our Plaza, servicing locals and friends from afar, has shifted to sleepy streets with the sole purpose to pave the way for our community members traveling to and from their essential jobs.
There is no doubt this is a stressful time for all of us. Changing our daily patterns is not an easy task, but in a very short period of time, even small changes have made a big difference within our community.
Few thought of Grocers as essential service providers until this pandemic. With professional polish and concern for the shopper’s well-being, our Ashland Co-op employees have been here day in and day out, risking their health, to provide food for our community. Our employees’ kindness and devotion to the community has been a constant and dependable source of comfort and warmth at the Co-op during this time of uncertainty.
Many community members witnessed our internal call for “all hands on deck” when shelves were depleted and product shipments finally arrived at our loading dock. There may even have been a beam of sunshine over the toilet paper aisle as we re-stocked the shelves with this beautiful essential.
Our local ranchers, Emerald Hills and Magnolia Farms, were making special deliveries to support our customers’ needs. Local farmers, bakers and producers did their best to keep delivering to the Co-op, though many of them experienced labor shortages and challenges with keeping their doors open for business. Yes, we were all in this, together.
The Ashland Food Co-op Board of Directors readily recognizes the extraordinary circumstances of this time, and the opportunity for an extraordinary response in service to our community. Demonstrating Cooperative Principle #7, “Concern for Community,” the most visible part of our work and most in line with our mission, the Co-op Board of Directors took unprecedented action in April. For the first time in its nearly 50-year history, the Ashland Food Co-op returned 100% of the over $600,000 Patronage Dividend for 2019, to owners, where it will feed right back into our local economy.
Co-op owners are encouraged to use any amount of their dividend to support the needs of families, friends and community. Many Co-op owners have elected to donate all or a portion of their dividend to the Ashland Emergency Food Bank, with over $15,000 in donations to date.
As a Co-op team member, words cannot express the gratitude I have for our team, our Board of Directors and our community. Now more than ever, the Co-op way of “stronger together” is so empowering for our earth, our community, our neighborhood, and our Co-op owners.