Introducing Community Foods

ImageCommunity Foods is a Seward Co-op labeling program that will call out products that best align with our values and Ends to sustain a healthy community. Community Foods will replace P6 this fall.

Our food landscape is changing. We want to tell the real stories of our producers and support the products we believe in. Community Foods purchases are important, everyday investments in a sustainable and equitable food system. Look for Community Foods logos around our stores this fall to shop products that qualify.

Community Foods Producers
To qualify for the Seward Co-op Community Foods label, producers must meet at least two of the criteria outlined below:

Local—products from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa
Small—products direct from producers
Cooperative—Businesses run by and for people, with democratic governance and profits shared proportionate to use
Inclusive—historically underrepresented producers
Sustainable—producers who are stewards of the land
and environment

Why is the program called Community Foods?
The name of the program is the culmination of a process that spanned many months and included a number of stakeholders and conversations. Ultimately, we chose Community Foods because it simply speaks to who we are—it’s in our name (Seward Community Co-op), in our Ends (sustain a healthy community) and in the international principles that guide the way co-ops operate (Concern for Community).

Local
Producers from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa, as well as select producers from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan or the Dakotas. Local Community Foods producers receive a purple logo indicating state of origin.

Criteria
Producers who are based in one of the following:
• Minnesota
• Iowa
• Wisconsin
Select producers who are based in one of the following:
• Upper Peninsula of Michigan
• North Dakota
• South Dakota

Small
We boost small producers so economic and social benefits stay in the communities where they operate, and to provide an alternative to an economy built on resource extraction and the accumulation of capital in the hands of a few shareholders. This attribute is dependent on the industry; to how and where a product is grown or manufactured. It’s also affected by corporate buyouts and consolidations.

Criteria
Producers who:
• Are independently owned and operated.
• Sell direct to our stores or through a local, regional or cooperative distributor.
• Have an established relationship with our stores.

Cooperative
As a co-op, we work to cultivate communitywide wealth and an equitable, democratic alternative to conventional business models. We bolster other cooperatives doing the same.

Criteria
Producers who are incorporated as cooperatives or are nonprofits.

Sustainable
We prioritize producers who implement agricultural, production or manufacturing practices which build and maintain healthy soil; manage water wisely; minimize air, water, and climate pollution; and promote biodiversity.

Criteria
• Rotate crops and embrace diversity
• Plant cover crops and reduce traditional plowing
• Apply integrated pest management
• Integrate livestock and crops
• Adopt agroforestry practices
• Manage whole regenerative systems and landscapes
• Incorporate renewable energy sources into operations
• Reduce waste or emissions from production and packaging
• Operate facilities with energy efficiency certification(s)
• Operate with Organic certification(s) or practices
• Innovate and lead

Inclusive
Cooperatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. We want to continue to amplify the voices of historically underrepresented producers.

Criteria
Producers who are at least 51 percent owned, controlled, operated or governed (cooperatives, corporations) by one or more of the following:
• Women
• BIPOC persons (Black, Indigenous, People of Color)
• LGBTQIA+ persons (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual)
Socially and/or economically disadvantaged persons
• Disabled persons
• Veterans

Looks for more details as it's rolled out on Sept. 27.