Means to our Ends

How your co-op is fulfilling a commitment to the Erie community
By: Jennifer Cassano, Board of Directors | 2019-01-04

2018 was a year of change in our community. The GoLocal movement was embraced by Erie residents, we saw new shops and businesses popping up all over town, the EDDC was formed to revitalize downtown, and Celebrate Erie was all about us again. These few examples prove that we (the citizens of Erie County) wanted change, so we started it.

The same thing is happening at your Whole Foods Co-op. The GM and staff, with our end statements in mind (to include environment, Erie and education), formed committees to research, strategize and offer solutions to improve our community.

The first committee, with environment being their end statement focus, formed in order to eliminate and reduce plastic waste at the co-op. This team has researched the impact plastic has on the great lakes, our region, and the ecosystem, and created a strategy to lessen the impact the co-op has on our environment. They've been reaching out to local environmental advisors, coordinating with area university sustainability programs and have come up with some amazingly creative ways to reduce plastic use in the cafe and throughout the store. I don't want to ruin the surprise, but one of the ideas involves a shared mug wall! The data this team has collected and the strategies that they are going to implement will make all of you very happy, but again, I don't want to ruin the surprise. Be on the lookout for more exciting, eco-friendly options at the Co-op. This team will have other stores green with envy, pun intended.

The next committee, Erie, is focused on increasing sales by local vendors. Their research shows that shopping local generates 3.5 times more community wealth than shopping at chain-owned businesses and generates 70% more local economic activity than box retail stores. This committee has set measurable goals, based on trends in data, to increase the availability of local vendor goods at the store. They will also act as liaisons between local producers and department managers. Have you noticed a significant increase in Erie vendors who are selling their goods at the co-op lately? You can thank this committee for their hard work! Watch for more local fare in 2019.

The third committee is focusing their efforts towards education. Their primary goal is to position the co-op as a community asset. They have applied for grants and status that would allow an Educational Outreach Program to collaborate with other local programs such as Environment Erie and the Erie Gardening Coalition, to name a few, to provide educational opportunities to the community, right in our own Community Room. Their strategy is to evaluate what types of classes you, our member-owners, would find beneficial, then develop ways to increase awareness of these classes, and as a result increase attendance. Their mission is all-encompassing in that they want to capture the knowledge acquired by the other committees, convert that into educational formats and share it with member-owners, as well as the community at large. This is no easy feat! But you have no doubt already seen an abundance and variety of classes being offered. Classes that focus on the enhancement of the individual, the family, the environment, the community and the world. The work they have done thus far is impressive and you (and our community) will reap the benefits of their efforts in the new year!

The committees talk about their progress at board meetings and I proudly speak for all board members when I say, "thank you." We are proud to serve with you. Member-owners, take a minute to look around the store. You can thank LeAnna and the Ends Committees for their commitment to the co-op, and to our community. They have taken charge to make a positive change. The co-op is now a role model for education, for our environment and for Erie.

I'm excited to see the positive impact our Whole Foods Co-op is going to make in 2019. Happy New Year!