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Customer Comments

Worker ownerships
Q: Please bring back BULK soy protein powder.
Also: I think employees should all have a free membership As a work perk—otherwise—“owners” are of a higher “Ranking” than “workers.”

A: Thank you for your suggestions! I checked in with our Grocery Category Manager, Dean Kallas, and learned that the reason we do not carry soy protein powder in bulk is that it moves very slowly, and so it does not remain as fresh as we would like it to be for our customers. If you are an Owner, you are welcome to contact Customer Service and see if (and in what amount) we can order it for you.

Ownership is an investment in our cooperative, and it is separate from employment. Some employees are already invested when they begin working at the Co-op and others invest while they are working here. Employees have the right to decide if they want to invest and receive all the same benefits as other Owners. There is one benefit that is just for Owners who are also employees: a 20% discount which can be used by both the staff member and anyone listed on their household (if that’s the type of account they use). The decision to make investment a choice for employees that included an additional staff perk was made by the employees ourselves via committee process years ago. Current employees are welcome to propose changes to the Employee Council at any time. -Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services

Cardboard lining
Q: Can you put your food/health detectives to work? I can’t find this info myself.

What lines cardboard food containers (milk cartons, coffee cups, soup to-go containers)?

And what happens to the lining when we put hot food/liquid in them?

A: Thanks for writing in with this excellent question! The most common types of beverage cartons are either shelf-stable (or aseptic) or refrigerated (gable-top). Shelf-stable cartons, typically containing juice, milk, soup, broth, alternative milks, or wine are often made of paperboard with a plastic polymer lining on the outside and and an aluminum lining on the inside. Gable-top cartons are typically made from paperboard and coated with a layer of low-density polyethylene. Neither, at least from what I was able to gather, seem to be recommended for putting hot food or liquid in them. If you would like to be put in contact with a specific milk supplier to find out about their specific cartons, I’d be happy to help you make that contact.

Regarding to-go coffee cups and soup containers, the makeup of the containers may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. The coffee cups and soup cups available in the salad, hot, and juice bars at our stores are both made of elemental chlorine-free paperboard and printed with water-based inks. We source them through our membership in National Cooperative Grocers. We reached out to them to find out what happens when the lining is heated. They stated “All of these linings meet FDA requirements for food safety. The linings do have some material variations from manufacturer to manufacturer. I have reached out to each to get a more detailed and specific response for you and will forward as I hear back.” That was a week ago andI’m guessing the manufacturers are taking their time. You did not provide your name, and so I don’t know who to contact, but if you see this response and have further questions, let me know and I’d be happy to follow-up with you. -Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services

Keep it up
You are all a class act! Keep up the great work—I love our co-op!

What a sweet sentiment to share! Thanks for the compliment! We love our Co-op and its supporters too! -Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services

Annual Meeting & party
Q: Thank you for your coverage of the Annual Meeting & Party in the August edition of the Reader. Unfortunately, after circling the site and surrounding neighborhood multiple times, even south of Willy Street, I was unable to find a place to park and gave up.  I began my quest at 3:30, which should have provided ample opportunity for parking success, alas, no luck. In the future, I guess I’ll have to forego even the attempt to attend rather than deal with the frustration.  The original site was not ideal, but was much preferable to Central Park.  Glad to see those who were able to overcome the parking challenge had a good time.

A: Thanks for contacting us with your concern, and I’m sorry that you had such difficulty finding parking. Parking can get very difficult during the Annual Meeting & Party. I’ve found success with parking north of East Washington Avenue—when looking for parking spaces, it seems that people tend to stay south of East Wash. I’ve been able to find parking within about a two-and-a-half block walk (short side of the block) from the event site. You may have already looked there and not found anything, but I hope this helps if you choose to give it a try in the future. Have a nice week! -Brendon Smith, Director of Communications

Q: Good morning, I am trying to find out where your rotisserie chickens come from, but I wasn’t able to find the name of your producer on the website. I wondered if someone could tell me who provides the rotisserie chickens? Thank you!

A: Thanks for letting me know that you couldn’t get this information about our chickens. That tells me we need to look at ways to communicate it more clearly. In the meantime, I will tell you that our chickens cooked in rotisserie at Willy West are from Bell and Evans ( They are the air-chilled as well as antibiotic- and hormone-free birds. We hope to offer a line of organic Bell and Evans rotisserie chickens in the near future. Thanks again for writing in! -Patrick Schroeder, Prepared Foods Category Manager

Q: Wondering if there is any news on a third site? We moved to the east side from the west side and miss the incredible staff and convenience of Willy West. Wondering what’s next!

A: Thanks for your question! I’m so glad to hear how much you enjoy us. Identifying a third site location has taken longer than anticipated, and we plan to have a location identified by the end of Fiscal Year 2016 (June 2016). Stay tuned! -Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services

Q: I’m not certain what’s happening at Willy West but I continue to see your prices rising and your product quality falling. I just purchased a bag of Jonagold apples this week and 2 of 2 now have been mealy and not worth eating and all for $10 a bag? Come on! And cauliflower? Don’t even go there! I purchased one last week at practically $7.50 and it was NOT large by any means and then found a larger one yesterday at Whole Foods (where I really do not like to shop but may have to change my habits!) for $3.99, and it was fresher and yes, ORGANIC! Come on, Co-op—I thought you were for your owners but it doesn’t appear that way so much any more. Tired of rotten berries, fruit, and veggies for WAY TOO HIGH PRICES!

A: Thank you for taking the time to send us your feedback.

I’m sorry to hear that you have been unhappy with our produce quality and prices. We take pride in our Produce department and strive to offer the highest quality produce available for the lowest price. If you are ever dissatisfied with the products you buy from Willy Street Co-op, we are happy to give you a full refund on the item.

We have found that as demand for organic produce has continued to increase faster than supply, prices have gone up. The best way to save in the Produce department (and get the best quality) is to shop sales and local/seasonal items.

We are also happy to cut you a sample of anything in our Produce department before you make a purchase. Please ask if you would like to try something. Our staff taste tests items on a daily basis, but we do also get new shipments in on a daily basis, so it’s not possible for us to taste everything!

Please let us know if there is anything more we can do to help! Thanks again for taking the time to comment. -Brandy Schroeder, Produce Manager–West

Q: Are there any items in the deli that are safe for vegans?

A: Thank you for taking the time to write to us! We have lots of vegan options available in our Deli. We also take several precautions to be sure that your vegan food stays that way. On our hot bar we separate our vegan options from our traditional-style offerings. At West, all vegan/vegetarian food is put on one side of our hot bar (nearest to the cheese department.) If any vegetarian dishes are put on that side they are put in the front of the well, to be sure that nothing is dripped or dropped into a vegan dish to contaminate it. We practice a similar style in our cold case, keeping all vegan food on a top shelf, or at the front of the case, where nothing can be dripped or dropped into it.

I hope this helps put your mind at ease while shopping with us! Thank you again for writing. -Renee Strobel, Deli Manager–West

Mix & Match six-packsElectric car stallsWe cut meat to orderNeopolitan-style pizza

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