In 2017, Seward Co-op looks forward to providing the community with healthy and sustainably produced food. Concern for community is one of the seven principles on which cooperatives are founded, and co-ops have a strong commitment to support their neighborhoods. This integrity of purpose underlines the vital role Seward and other co-ops play in the quality of our lives.
Building Commonwealth in 2016
This fall, the Friendship store celebrated its first anniversary and the Seward Co-op Creamery Café reopened after summer renovations and a menu relaunch. The Friendship store continues to perform beyond our expectations and the renovated café provides family-friendly dishes, and an upbeat and inviting atmosphere. Since opening the Friendship store and Creamery Café, thousands of new households have become owners of the co-op.
At Seward, we strive to build stronger relationships among employees, vendors, customers and our broader community by creating spaces in which people can come together over food. We are constantly asking ourselves how we can be more welcoming to all at the co-op. In 2016, this required that we acknowledge the larger historical context of racism and discrimination in our society and take proactive steps, as the board of directors did in September by publicly stating our co-op’s support for Black Lives Matter.
We take pride in the impact we make with our three distinct business units. We are able to offer more products and services from small-scale, local, and cooperative producers. And, each Seward Co-op location allows community members to gather over food, connecting with old friends and new acquaintances.
In early 2016, we reached $1 million in donations to local nonprofits via our SEED round-up program! Seward Co-op has made it a priority to give back to the community. In the spirit of the cooperative principles, the co-op launched SEED in 2011, a fundraising program that provides customers an opportunity to round-up their bill for organizations that share Seward’s commitment to a healthy community.
In the spring, Seward Co-op and many Twin Cities co-ops, teamed up to participate in the MN FoodShare March Campaign. Together, we raised a grand total of 109,371.37 dollars/pounds for the campaign! (This total is comprised of $97,211.67 and 12,159.7 lbs. of food.)
From Thursday, Nov. 17–Wednesday, Nov. 23 Seward Co-op donated 1 percent of all P6 sales, a total of $4,522, to the Cooperative Development Fund, a charitable family of funds that advances economic development through co-ops. These funds will be directed to area farms, many of which Seward has purchased from for years, that experienced damaging rains and consequential farm devastation in the 2016 growing season.
Recognition from Government Officials
In August, we received a visit from U.S. Treasury Secretary, Jack Lew. Lew and his staff visited the Friendship store because part of the financing for the building came in the form of a New Markets Tax Credit. Lew helped create this tax credit in the 1990s during the Clinton administration. The credit is aimed to create jobs and improve lives of people in low-income communities.
Representative Keith Ellison also paid a visit to the Friendship store in January. The congressperson toured the store, met with staff, and discussed the co-op’s recycling program and diversity hiring goals.