This summer, Nourish celebrates its first anniversary. A year ago, Seward Co-op launched the Nourish program as a way to provide greater access to the products and services we offer. We recognize that shopping for healthful and affordable food can be challenging. This is why, in conjunction with the introduction of Nourish, we increased our needs-based discount last year from 5% to 10%.
We do not want financial need to be a barrier to shopping at Seward Co-op. At the same time, we have to be conscious of maintaining the co-op’s financial health. When deciding how much to increase the discount, we evaluated the impact that this change would have on our pre-distribution net income (PDNI). We have a goal of accomplishing at least 3% PDNI so that we have enough to issue a patronage refund to our owners. For every $100 of discount sales, we lost $2 when the needs-based discount was 5%. Moving it to 10% increased that loss to $7.
When the discount was 5%, we determined that for every $100 dollars of discounted sales, we needed $515 of regular priced sales to make up for these losses in order to maintain 3% PDNI; at 10%, it became $1,031. There are those who think we should raise our discount to 20%. If we were to do that, the co-op would lose $17 on every $100 of discount sales, which would require an additional $2,062 in sales. This table breaks down how this works.
Since the introduction of Nourish last year, the co-op has sold $1,582,854 in Nourish products and given $209,787 in needs-based discounts. We believe the current 10% discount rate strikes an appropriate balance between providing affordable options in the community, providing an appropriate patronage refund to owners, and maintaining the financial health of the co-op.
What Else Does Nourish Offer?
In addition to increasing our discount, we also used the Nourish program to more proactively promote the payment options we have for ownership. In addition to the one-time payment of $75, we offer a partial payment and a needs-based option. Shoppers who have financial need can become owners with an initial investment of $15 through the needs-based ownership option. (The remaining $60 of co-op stock is accrued through patronage refund earnings.) Needs-based ownerships were started in 2013 and are available to those enrolled in Minnesota Food Assistance/Support, WIC, MinnesotaCare and Minnesota Medical Assistance, Social Security Disability or other self-identified need. Since its inception, we have welcomed 695 owners to the co-op through the needs-based ownership program.
The Nourish program also focuses heavily on education. After all, it is the fifth cooperative principle. The program helps shoppers identify Nourish items — which include some of the co-op’s most popular foods and wellness products — by using our staples list (found at Customer Service and online) as a guide. Shelf signs throughout the store also designate Nourish items, and our staff are always happy to point out Nourish options.
Cooking at home is an important component to Nourish. The recipe rack next to the Customer Service desk contains many Nourish options. Nourish recipes are an affordable way to feed four people — often for $10 or less — using ingredients available at Seward Co-op. The co-op offers a series of free Nourish classes designed around shopping the co-op and making unique dishes using Nourish ingredients. Classes teach basic scratch-cooking techniques, how to prepare recipes that feed a family of four for under $10, and how to shop the co-op. Class topics have included Simple Thanksgiving Sides, Kwanzaa Table, Cooking with Bulk Grains, and an African Heritage Cooking series.
For more information on Nourish, visit our website or pick up a Nourish brochure in the store.