Friday, 03 February 2012 21:25
By Kristie Snyder,
Friendship Donations Network volunteers prepare for a weekly food pantry distribution at Ithaca's Immaculate Conception Church. Friendship Donations Network (FDN) supplies Loaves and Fishes and dozens of food pantries in the Ithaca area each week with fresh, perishable food donated by local stores including GreenStar. You can donate money to support FDN's mission at any GreenStar register. For a list of weekly pantries, visit http://friendshipdonations.org/pantry-schedule.
Last of the seven Cooperative Principles that guide GreenStar and other co-ops is Concern for Community: "Cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members."
Community support takes many forms at GreenStar, some more quantifiable than others. Monetary donations are pretty quantifiable, and GreenStar puts its money where its cooperative mouth is, donating thousands of dollars every year to support local organizations, while at the same time providing member-owners channels through which they can donate directly.
In 2011, GreenStar donated over $3,200 dollars in gift cards, products or food to over 80 community organizations whose missions support values common to the Co-op. In addition, we donated $641 to Ithaca's Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Celebration, $500 to Shaleshock Action Alliance, and $500 to sponsor a Greater Ithaca Activities Center team in their summer basketball league.
In addition, our members chipped in their own money at the registers to support organizations at home, and abroad — $1,826 for relief to victims of the Japan tsunami, $379 for GreenStar Community Projects in conjunction with their walk-a-thon and Food Justice Summit, and, most impressively, $4,425 for the Food Bank of the Southern Tier following the devastating floods that took place in September 2011. Shoppers have also donated unknown amounts to community organizations, such as Women Swimmin' and Northern Light Learning Center's Roots and Shoots club, who are allowed to table in GreenStar's entryway. While some groups are there simply to educate or collect signatures for various campaigns, others raise funds as well.
Outside of our local community, but within the broader national community of co-ops, in 2011 GreenStar donated $1,000 to the Howard Bowers fund, which promotes member-owned food co-ops, $500 to the Michael Martin Memorial Fund, formed in memory of a Vermont co-op manager killed by a co-worker in August 2011, and $200 to CoFed (Cooperative Food Empowerment Directive) to help support students in opening new co-ops on college campuses. Most recently, GreenStar will donate 50 percent of profits from certain citrus sold during the month of January (the amount was not tallied as of press time) to the National Center for Farmworker Health. We've also begun allowing members to donate at the registers to Friendship Donations Network on an ongoing basis.
Of course, GreenStar extends non-financial support to community organizations in myriad ways as well. Several times every week, we donate expired or otherwise unsaleable, but still good food to the Friendship Donations Network, which distributes it to people in need throughout the area. We allow food pantries and animal shelters to collect donations of goods in our entryway. We offer very affordable storage and meeting space to local organizations and small businesses. We recently made a $25,000 loan to the Mariposa Co-op in Philadelphia to support their expansion. We have a presence at dozens of community gatherings, festivals and other programs, from the Family Reading Partnership's Book Fest to Juneteenth. And through GreenStar Community Projects, our non-profit affiliate supported with a $10,000 annual donation and staff and resource support from GreenStar, many more organizations and community members are reached (for more information, visit www.greenstarcommunityprojects.org).
When you add it all up, it's hard to measure the support we offer to our local community, and our larger co-op community as well. For GreenStar's member-owners, it's just part of business as usual — values driven, community supported and community supporting.