As we make our way through the middle of the holiday season, we continue to reflect upon, work on, and seek new ways to provide service to our community. Here are some continuing and new service initiatives we have going on at your Co-op, and ways that you can get involved.
Support Double Dollars and Neighborhood Food Pantries
Last month we started matching your donations to the Double Dollars Fund 1:1, and in the first two weeks of matching, your contributions raised a combined $1,754 to support Double Dollars and our neighborhood food pantries. Right now, and through December 31st, we will continue to match any donation to the Double Dollars Fund made by using the scan cards at the cash registers, up to $10,000. When you donate to the Double Dollars Fund, which supports our program that helps those using FoodShare/QUEST purchase more fresh foods at the Co-op and participating farmers’ markets; your Co-op will make an equal donation that supports our partner food pantries: Bread of Life Food Pantry, Goodman Community Center Fritz Food Pantry, Lussier Community Education Center, Middleton Outreach Ministry, The River Food Pantry, and Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center. After the matching donation drive is over, we will split our match evenly among the six pantries and they will receive Co-op gift cards to help them purchase fresh foods that are sometimes harder forpantries to come by during the winter season. This match is made possible through our charitable fund that is supported by abandoned equity. Thank you for your contributions to the match so far, and for all your support of the Double Dollars Fund, which has currently raised over $40,000 for the program.
NCG Co+op Basics Goodness Giveaway: Enter to Win!
National Cooperative Grocer (NCG), our national co-op of food co-ops, is also getting involved in supporting our neighborhood food pantries at food co-ops nationwide. From November 29th until December 12th, we will offering NCG’s Goodness Giveaway, when you can both win groceries and give groceries. Customers can enter for a chance to win $75 worth of Co+op Basics products at each store location, and when customers win, NCG will also give $75 to each location in your honor to our local food pantries, listed above. There’s no purchase necessary to participate. Stay tuned to our social media on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram or look for details in the store to find out how to enter to win!
Santas Without Chimneys
Autonomous Solidarity is back for a fourth year at the Co-op with Santas Without Chimneys (SWC) to collect gifts for homeless and highly mobile children and youth in the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) at all three of our retail locations. SWC is an independent, all-volunteer, “ask-based,” crowd-sourced and non-faith-based holiday donation drive organized with the assistance of MMSD’s Transitional Education Program and district social workers. SWC seeks to bring cheer and giving, and one of the greatest sources of support for gift donations comes in the form of dropboxes at local businesses. If you are interested, you may bring items such as cozy blankets (no bed comforters); kids socks, gloves, mittens, hats, scarves, new hair accessories, teen and pre-teen cosmetics, new or like-new books, or new art supplies to any of our locations and drop them in SWC’s designated drop boxes in the foyers. For more information, please visit www.santaswithoutchimneys.org. Drop boxes will be at the stores through December 17th.
Community Reinvestment Fund Seeks 2018 Committee Member
Since 1992, the Willy Street Co-op Community Reinvestment Fund has been making a difference in the quality of life for our community by funding developmental and educational projects for 501(c)3 nonprofits and cooperatives. Grants are awarded via a committee with members representing the Willy Street Co-op Board, Co-op Services employees, and Owners-at-large.
The Co-op seeks one Co-op Owner to serve on the CRF grant committee. Committee members must be available from 6-9pm between March 19th and April 6th for two meetings. Time outside of meetings is required to review documents and a reception for the grant winners and committee members will be scheduled the week of May 21st. Ideal candidates have backgrounds in at least one of the following program focuses: food justice and/or access, creating cooperatives, sustainable agriculture, health and well-being, and/or social change.
If you are part of an organization wishing to apply for a grant, the applications will be available on our website this January, and more information will be available in the January Reader. In the meantime, you can find information about the Community Reinvestment Fund at www.willystreet.coop/CRF.
Access Discount Qualifications Expand January 1st
Owners who have a financial need can apply for the Access Discount Program and shop with a 10% discount to buy food and other products at the Co-op. Every two years, the Co-op convenes an Access Discount Review Committee to assess the Access Discount Program and ensure that it is serving Co-op Owners experiencing low-income or food insecurity to the best of its capacity. The committee is comprised of members representing the Board, Co-op Services and Finance employees, and Owners-at-large who have backgrounds in food security or serving populations with low-income and/or have participated in the Access Discount Program themselves. Thanks to the committee’s review in Fiscal Year 2017, we are pleased to announce that we will be expanding the qualifications Owners may use to enroll in the program. Starting January 1st:
•Owner using their income level to enroll will be able to participate if they can demonstrate that their annual gross income within the last year is at or below 150% of the Federal Poverty Guideline (FPG). The current qualification to enroll in the program using income level is 130% FPG.
•We will be working with and identifying local nonprofits and health care clinics who either use income verification to enroll clients in their services or the HungerCare Coalition’s Food Security Screening Tool to create partnerships that allow for these groups to certify qualification for the Access Discount Program.
Owners may also continue to use participation in one or more of the following programs to qualify for the Access Discount: FoodShare/QUEST Program (SNAP); the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program; Medicaid (BadgerCare/SeniorCare); the Special Supplemental Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); Section 8 Housing Assistance (HUD), Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), and FairShare CSA Coalition Partner Shares.
The Committee will convene again in Fiscal Year 2019, and we look forward to continuing to provide and improve this program for Owners.
Language Translation Services Available at the Co-op
As a co-op serving many community members throughout Dane County, we recognize that providing opportunities to remove language barriers is important to providing customer service and making everyone feel welcome to shop at our store. Last Fiscal Year, we translated our Ownership brochures, information about Double Dollars, and the Owner contract into both Spanish and Hmong. You can ask for these materials in these languages at our Customer Service desk. We are currently working on updating our Access Discount Program brochure and application, and when those updates are completed, they too will be translated into Spanish and Hmong. We also have Spanish language brochures about a whole host of food topics available from NCG and you can find their brochures at www.willystreet.coop/know-your-food or you may ask Customer Service to print a copy for you.
We also added a new service that we are really excited to offer: on-demand language translation. Now, when Co-op shoppers who have low to no English speaking skills, Customer Service can help with a simple phone call to LinguaLinx Language Solutions. When we make the phone call, employees and customers can have a conversation with a translator available on-demand to speak the language the customer would prefer to speak. It’s a low-cost and low-tech solution to an issue that both employees and Owners have been seeking to resolve. If you know customers who may benefit from this service, please have them see Customer Service for assistance.
Kindness is Everything Yard Signs
Your Co-op supports providing an outlet for non-partisan political action materials and information. Last year, we started selling yard signs with a message that “No Matter Where You Are From, We’re Glad You’re Our Neighbor,” on behalf of Geneva Campus Church and FairShare CSA Coalition. We began selling their signs about a year ago when asked, and the signs are still available for $10 each. To date, we have sold 1,492 of their yard signs.
We are now also selling the “Kindness is Everything” yard signs and stickers distributed locally by the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health, which will also be the organization that benefits from the sales. Stickers cost $5 and yard signs cost $15. Both the stickers and the signs say “In this house, we believe: Black Lives Matter, Women’s Rights are Human Rights, No Human is Illegal, Science is Real, Love is Love, No Matter Your Faith or Ability, Kindness is Everything.” The sign and sticker design was a gift to the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health from local artist Kristin Joiner. We opted to sell these signs on the behalf of Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health because they had a message that is in line with our Ends Policies and the Cooperative Principles and is not politically partisan.
For more information about the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health and their “Kindness is Everything” campaign, please visit www.supportwomenshealth.org/kindnessiseverything.html. If you are a representative of an organization that is interested in distributing signs, postcards, stickers or buttons at the Co-op, you are welcome to contact us to see if your materials and information meet our criteria. Politically partisan, or candidate-specific items and messages that are non-secular are excluded from this privilege, and merchandising space is also taken into account when proposals are made.
Both FairShare CSA Coalitionand the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health are member nonprofits of Community Shares of Wisconsin, who also benefit from Community CHIP at our checkout lanes. You can find both the “Neighbor” and “Kindness is Everything” yard signs merchandised outside of Willy East and Willy West, and near the checkout lanes and food donation shelf at Willy North. The “Kindness is Everything” stickers are available at Customer Service at all locations.
Our Owners Make A Difference
Whether you are supporting Double Dollars or entering to win a giveaway both supporting our local food pantries, or whether you are involved with our committees or spreading the word about the services we offer, or whether you simply shop the store regularly and sometimes take part in supporting our local nonprofits and the messages they share, your Co-op appreciates you and the difference that your support makes for our community. Enjoy the rest of your holiday season!