by Kirsten Moore, Cooperative Services Director
This year, our Owners are continuing their tradition of being generous supporters of the Co-op and the community, through lending us funding for capital investments that improve our services and donating to programs that support other Co-op shoppers and organizations that enrich our community and environment. Here is an update on some major programs that you support, and information about how to get information about the tax deductible donations you have made throughout the year while shopping your Co-op.
Bond Drive Underway, $600,000 Goal
Access Discount Program Renewals Due March 31st, FPG Qualifier Increased to 150%
Owners currently enrolled in our Access Discount Program will receive emails or letters mid-month letting them know that it is time for annual renewal. To continue receiving the 10% discount on purchases, all Owners who currently participate in the Access Discount program must renew their eligibility between now and March 31st, 2018. Owners interested in continuing to receive this benefit are asked to visit Customer Service at any retail location with their current eligibility materials to complete an enrollment form.
While enrolling in the Access Discount Program is free, if participating Owners are still in the process of making annual Owner equity payments and it’s been more than a year since their last payment, they will be asked to make a small equity payment. As an Access Discount participant, Owners pay a reduced Ownership fee over a longer period of time: $4 every year for an Individual, until the Owner pays a total of $56, or $7 every year for a Household (two adults living in the same house or apartment), until the Owner pays a total of $91.
Owners are eligible to participate in the Access Discount Program if they participate in the QUEST FoodShare Program (SNAP), Medicaid (BadgerCare/SeniorCare), the Special Supplemental Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), FairShare CSA Coalition Partner Shares; receive Section 8 Housing Assistance from the Community Development Authority (HUD), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI); or have annual gross income within the last year at or below 150% of the Federal Poverty Guideline (FPG). This is an increase from previous years, where the qualifier was below 130% FPG.
We are also working with the partner organizations in the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program to develop a way for those who have received a HungerCare Food Security Screening and screened positive for experiencing food insecurity at participating healthcare facilities and clinics to participate in the Access Discount Program. This is a work in progress, and we will keep Owners informed as to how this could work in the future.
Double Dollars Continues At Co-op Through March 13th, Vouchers Good Through May 31st
We’re in week 15 of the second year for our seasonal 21-week Double Dollars program at the Co-op. On Double Dollars Tuesdays through March 13th, any shopper using a FoodShare/QUEST card to purchase groceries is eligible to receive up to $20 worth of Double Dollars coupons to use during future shopping trips. Double Dollars coupons are designed to help with fresh food purchases, and are issued after customers shop, at the checkout line. For every $5 spent using a FoodShare/QUEST card for any FoodShare/QUEST eligible items, the Co-op gives one $5 Double Dollars coupon, up to $20, good for any Produce Department purchases.
Double Dollars is a City of Madison program administered by the Community Action Coalition of South Central Wisconsin. In the late fall through mid-spring, Double Dollars are available for use at the Co-op. From mid-Spring through late fall, Double Dollars are available for use at a variety of local farmers’ markets. Please visit www.willystreet.coop/double-dollars and www.cacscw.org/double-dollars (link is external) for more information.
Double Dollars Fund $10K Holiday Match Met to Support Neighborhood Food Pantries
Customers can support Double Dollars at both the Co-op and the farmers’ markets by making a cash donation using a Double Dollars Fund scan card at the registers or by simply bringing and reusing bags when checking out groceries. Since we started collecting donations and contributing the savings from customers reusing bags last April, we have provided $54,428 to fund Double Dollars. Throughout November and December, we offered to match customer contributions to the Double Dollars Fund. We said that when you contributed to the Double Dollars Fund, we would do a 1:1 match up to $10,000 using abandoned Owner equity to support our Pantries of Plenty neighborhood pantry partners: 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. You met our match and exceeded it with a combined $13,293.17 in cash donations and savings due to your reuse of bags! Thanks to you, each food pantry will receive $1,667 to use on fresh items that are harder to come by in the winter season. We appreciate your support of the Double Dollars program and our neighborhood pantries.
Community Investment Fund Grant Application Deadline February 28th
Applications for our Community Reinvestment Fund are now open, and we will be accepting applications from local 501(c)3 nonprofits and cooperatives through February 28th. We are seeking to fund projects benefiting Dane County with priority given to projects benefiting the Madison and Middleton metropolitan areas, organizations with limited access to funding, and projects that have not been funded by the grant program previously. Grants provide for innovative, hands-on, educational projects that impact a large group of people, reach out to underserved populations, create jobs or develop skills, foster social engagement, and offer opportunities for diversifying partnerships, collaboration and entrepreneurialism. Grants are competitive, and this year the Board has allocated $25,000 from abandoned Owner equity to award. For more information and to download the application, visit www.willystreet.coop/community-reinvestment-fund.
Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program Pilot Completed, Evaluation Underway
Last calendar year, the City of Madison received a $25,000 grant from Wholesome Wave to pilot a Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program. The program lasted from February 1st through December 31st. During the pilot, the UW Health Northeast Family Medical Center used the HungerCare Food Security Screening to screen patients for experiencing food insecurity. If the patient screened positive, they received $120 in $2 vouchers for items in our Produce department to use within six months, and a $4 equity voucher to become an Owner or make an equity payment and participate in the Access Discount Program. 420 patients received vouchers during the pilot. We are currently reviewing the overall usage of the program, the potential future of the program and next steps with our pilot partner organizations: the City of Madison, Public Health Madison and Dane County, Second Harvest HungerCare Coalition, UW Extension, and UW Health Northeast Family Medical Center.
Owner Donation Reports for Filing 2017 Federal Income Taxes
Thank You For Your Support!
Whether we are growing our business or improving our services at existing locations, supporting shoppers experiencing food insecurity, or making contributions to our community, none of these things are possible without the efforts of you and our community partners. Thank you for your generosity.