Clarke Middle Farm to table

 photo 4 Have you heard about the farm to table restaurant at Clarke Middle School? In March of this year Wick Pritchard became an Americorps VISTA volunteer – just three months later, with a grant from Athens Community Connection and support from Dr. David Berle via the UGA office of Service Learning – the program was underway. We’re photo 2 (2)truly impressed with what community cooperation and a few good folks can accomplish in such a small period of time.

Today, the Clarke Middle Ecology Corps program is Athens’ first student-run farm to table restaurant. Middle school students grow produce in the school garden and prepare end-of-the-week meals for the public in the school kitchen.  Hugh Acheson’s restaurants provided guest chef support throughout the five weeks – and Hugh himself worked with the students for the photo 4 (2)final week. Additionally, Daily Groceries donated groceries for the final week and some of our staff were lucky enough to attend!

Check out that Menu! Such a nice treat! The program has plans to continue into the school, moving into an after-school program and serving dinner. We’re wishing out young chefs all the best! Thanks for the delicious meal!

“Trabajo y Union!” (Work and unity) ~ Arizmendi

matthewOur resident cooperative enthusiast (and owner-member coordinator) Matthew Epperson recently had a chance to travel to Spain and learn from the workers at the Mondragon Cooperatives – we asked him to share with us some of what he learned:

-          The Mondragon Co-operative Corporation (MCC) is a complex of 110 co-ops with revenues of 18 Billion Euros and the 7th largest Spanish company. Located in the Basque region of Spain – the modern cooperative movement began in 1956 in an area that was desperately poor as a solution to the poverty. Today, the Basque region has some of the lowest unemployment in Spain – despite the currently economic climate.

-          Job security is of the highest priority to the cooperatives and Mondragon promotes a culture of unity. For example, Fagor, one of the oldest companies, founded in 1956, recently collapsed! Although this was a huge shake up, it was not catastrophic for the workers – true to co-op form, its 1800 workers are in the process of being relocated to the other cooperatives in the collective.   Though this mean less hours for all – members are committed to making the cooperatives more beneficial to all workers.  This was inspiring! Many workers spoke of this “relocation program” as so vital to their social welfare system. Workers in other plants described Fagor’s workers were coming into their plants, but rather than this being cause for resentment, it was a reminder of how the system looks out for the employment of everyone.

-          At Mondragon, there are no fat cats at the top being paid over 300 times as much as the workers (the United States National average – CEO to worker). Instead there are agreed-upon (by democratic vote) wage ratios between executive work and field or factory work which earns a minimum wage. These ratios range from 3:1 to 9:1 in different cooperatives and average 5:1. Theoretically, this means that the general manager of an average Mondragon cooperative earns no more than 5 times as much as the lowest paid worker in his/her cooperative. However, because many of the jobs are specialized – thus classified at higher wage levels, the ratio is even smaller.

finance,industry-          There is no such thing as redundant in Mondragon, and firings are so seldom it’s probably startling when it happens. The general philosophy is that boosts in efficiency in the factories are to be sought wherever possible, with no fear that that will mean putting oneself or your neighbor out of a job. People are the reason the machines are working, and people can and will be the masters of those machines, not the other way around. If there were no more car parts to be made or inspected by hand, then the workers would just focus on better governance and education, more intellectual tasks.

-          Employees volunteer up to 15 hours a month to be a part of different councils (such as the social and governing council). This is where the workers display their voice in guiding the organizations they work for.

-          The social council, in particular, is devoted to representing workers rights (working conditions, pay, hours, grievances), whereas the governing council is how workers are represented as owners.

-          Elegantly, every worker has a chance at being a member and thus given a vote in the ultimate decision making body of the co-ops, known as the general assembly (GA).

-          The GA elects the governing council (board of directors), social council and watchdogs (internal auditors), and everyone (no matter their position) is eligible to run for these positions.

-          While this council work always mattered to them, it was during the 2008 financial crisis that it especially mattered who was on the social council –

o   for example: the co-ops were discussing wage cuts and hours cuts just to stay alive, and that meant trusting your social council to represent you as a worker in those big questions. Work was cut to 20 out of 30 days in the month for quite a while. Meetings were attended by crying and shouting — it was intense! But these were people working for themselves, and thus they had every motivation to make even the hard choices, and did their best to do so fairly.

-          Women have historically been less represented in the councils and on the shop floors but that is gradually changing. One woman we spoke with said she encountered a lot of skepticism that she was up to the manual labor, but she was given the chance and she proved herself. Doubt doesn’t follow her any longer. The men realize some machine tasks are just better for women anyway, particularly around hand-eye and quality control areas.

Visit Mondragon Cooperatives, and watch a lecture by Economics professor Richard Wolff on Mondragon.

 

Thanks Matthew!

New Offerings from the Daily Deli will make your Summer Super Tasty

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Our Deli Manager, Drew

 

Our Deli Manager, Drew, recently attended a co-op conference where he talked business and swapped recipes with food co-ops from all over the country… Check out our newest offerings!

Thai Peanut Curry Sandwich

We’re taking our popular new Thai Coconut Curry Hummus, and making a sammie with peanut butter, cucumber, sprouts, and a little soy sauce-based dressing.

Tuscan Tuna Salad

Responsibly harvested, dolphin-safe yellowfin tuna, with artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, and roasted red peppers. We’ll have that by itself and also as a sammie on Luna ciabatta bread.

Sumi Salad

An Asian-style slaw with almonds and sesame.

Golden Beet and Kale Salad

A kale salad with shredded golden beets, carrots, green onions, bell pepper, and hemp seeds– tossed and dressed with a tahini vinaigrette.

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Yummy kale goodness close up!

 

Our Matthew is Pursuing Co-operative Higher Education!

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Matthew and his girlfriend, Lindsey

I was in North Carolina attending a conference with the Daily board when I first heard about a co-operative master’s degree program at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I was instantly interested and compelled to learn more. Can you really learn that in an academic setting? What would it be like? I had just heard Tom Webb, former director of the Master’s of Management: Co-operatives and Credit Unions (MMCCU) program, giving a YouTube presentation on the differences between the co-operative business model and the investor-owned company alternative, and how the challenges facing the world (technology, environment, income distribution and more) could be simultaneously addressed by co-ops. Webb was positively an inspiring speaker to me, and opened the door to a possibility I had not previously considered. I had just graduated from UGA and thought I would pursue higher education if the right opportunity presented itself, and present itself it did.

I decided to do a little research. The program is primarily an online correspondence degree so I wouldn’t have to move away from Athens, or Daily, to attend. Success! And I would get the chance to visit Nova Scotia! Plus, during my second year (this year) I would get the chance to tour the Mondragon Co-operative Corporation in the Basque area of Spain! It would take three years (though there is now a two year option), and I could see that there was some financial assistance available… I was prepared to take the plunge. I submitted my application, contacted my references, waited about a month and then the news came – I got in!

Since beginning the program I’ve been to Canada for orientation and was delighted to meet some of my future instructors, my fellow classmates, and briefly tour Nova Scotia which was breathtaking to see. Through the program I’ve learn co-operative history, governance, finance, marketing, globalization and business strategy. It turned out the curriculum of a business administration degree could be co-operativized such that management skills were being taught from the co-op perspective. Where one would teach profit maximization, the MMCCU program teaches triple-profit maximization (people, planet, and profit) that benefits all stakeholders who are meaningfully involved in a co-op or credit union, from suppliers to customers to members to employees and even future generations.

Many people wonder what it’s like learning primarily online, and I’m glad to say it’s been both rewarding and accommodating. My cohort of eight students are primarily from Canada (one other fellow from the Seward Community Co-op in Minneapolis), including Vancouver and British Columbia and work in mutual insurance (The Co-operators) and credit unions (Vancity) which have assets in excess of C$10 billion! Our locations, ages, sectors and experience all vary widely but we are united by our common co-operative values and principles – not to mention grades! We write papers together and routinely discuss homework readings and depend on one another’s thoughtful feedback to make the grade and really understand the concepts fundamental to a successful co-op.

I’m happy to say as well that more and more US students are enrolling in MMCCU, and some alumni have already put their knowledge to good use, like at Seward where General Manager Sean Doyle initiated a Co-operative Scorecard program to help them evaluate their multiple bottom lines with input from multiple stakeholders, all due in part to learning about the process through MMCCU.

My final project will be a capstone paper that in some meaningful and practical way will benefit Daily Groceries. I look forward to deciding on my topic (yikes, only a year left!) and researching it before turning it into something enduring for Daily. Already my knowledge of things like open book management and leveraging social media is helping me day to day here at Daily and the future is looking brighter all the time!

The 2013 cohort, including yours truly.

The 2013 cohort, including yours truly.

Great News from the Grocery Department!

Great news on the grocery front! Daily will now be receiving an additional delivery from our main grocery distributor, UNFI, every Saturday morning. This should help us keep the shelves fully stocked 7 days a week, and allow us to somewhat reduce the size of our Monday and Thursday deliveries, which will free up space in the aisles on those mornings.

It’s a good example of what customers’ continued support of the coop’s growth can do. Our recent surge in sales has allowed us some leverage with UNFI, who is more than happy to accommodate us, as our business with them is up nearly 25% year-to-date. Not only did we arrange a third delivery, we were able to negotiate an increase in our volume discount with them for the first time in nearly 20 years. While we won’t be able to bring down all the prices in the store, hopefully you’ll begin to notice some changes for the better in the coming weeks.

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We are delighted and excited to offer GT Dave’s kombucha for a new lower everyday price!

Fear Not the Webinar!

Of all the new words the current wave of technology has brought us, ‘webinar’ has to be the most ridiculous, and therefore it delights me most deeply. To my ear, Webinar is the webinar2name for some 1950s creature-movie monstrosity, an ungodly combination of Spider and Dinosaur born of gene-splicing science gone horribly, deliciously wrong.
 
More rooted in reality, and only slightly less awesome, actual webinars (or web seminars) have become a powerful tool for learning at Daily. Through our membership in the National Cooperative Grocers Association, we have access to a broad range of distance-learning classes that teach us new management techniques and tips. Hopefully you’ll be able to see the results in the store as we implement what we’ve learned.
 
Andrea and I have been cramming our brains full of knowledge via a webinar class titled OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARetail Basics 102. We’re learning how to better track and manipulate key indicators for coop health, about price audits to maintain healthy margins, active budgeting tools by department to keep spending at an acceptable level, and (the area customers will notice most) merchandising strategies that affect both how we display the products we have and which ones to carry. We’re also learning about the hidden areas of loss and shrink that eat into our margin. Maintaining a healthy margin allows us to have money to pay our bills and our employees, and to make improvements to the store.
 
I am very excited to tap into the data stream I recently learned about in a webinar on the SPINS data system. SPINS allows access to product movement data from all the coops in the NCGA, and essentially every non-megacorp health food store in the country. We can see what sells and for how much, and we can sort it by store, group (such as coops) or region. We can track trends as they emerge, instead of catching the tail end and being stuck with inventory when the sales slow. It’s basically a super-powered tool for buying that should help us bring more great products to you. 
 
Lily and Jane have been webinar-ing in the produce department as well. One class focused on merchandising – signage, display, cross-merchandising products and the like – and customers have noticed how beautiful the produce section is looking these days. Another webinar was about best practices in dealing with local farmers, which is very important business to us.
 
Fear not Webinar! Get caught in his web of knowledge!
Andy Dixon, Grocery Manager

Getting to know… Tiffany!

 

tiffanyTiffany started out here at Daily as a volunteer, and once we learned how capable she was, we just had to hire her. She is currently working as a shift supervisor and grocery assistant.Tiffany is a real pleasure to work with– a great team player with a fun and caring nature.  Read on to learn more about this lovely person.

How long have you lived in Athens?

I have lived in Athens for about 6 years now.

What are your favorite things about living in Athens?

I love that I can always find new places in town to discover and interesting people from so many cultures and backgrounds. I can also appreciate that Athens is a great place to live for art and music lovers.

What are your favorite places to eat in town? Any specific dishes or items you’d like to mention?

I absolutely love Cali-N-Titos and Kelly’s Jamaican Food (both on Lumpkin Street)! Shokitini’s sushi and karaoke rooms are also great! Also any place with frozen yogurt.

What is your dream vacation?

I would love to travel to the Philippines one day. It would be great to see where my mother, grandmother, and my mother’s siblings grew up.

What makes you happy?

Really corny jokes and getting to learn more about people—which makes working at Daily a lot fun.

What are your favorite movies and TV shows?

I’m not sure if I could pick my favorites of all time—maybe Crash would be my favorite movie and maybe the first 2 seasons of Heroes would be my favorite TV shows. Right now, I am really enjoying The Walking Dead and I can’t wait for the next season of Game of Thrones.

What books/comics are you currently reading?

I am currently reading Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. So far I’m loving that it combines my love for video games and books set in a dystopian future. It was recommended to me by Andy, and Frankie recommended it to him. When I finish, I hope to recommend it to someone else at Daily.

If you had a super power, what would it be and why?

I would definitely want the ability to fly, but it would be for completely selfish reasons. 80% of my time spent flying would be used reaching things without using a ladder or asking for help. 10% of my flying time would be spent getting to places I need to be when I’m running late. 9% of my time would be spent on dunking on professional athletes. 1% of my time would be looking for a kitten to rescue and thereby becoming a hero of a small town. I would also refuse to fly higher than 10 feet in the air—way too risky after 10 feet.

When you shop at Daily, what are your favorite things to buy?

Avocados, Spinach, and local goat cheeses, shampoo and conditioner from Adama Minerals, Upton’s Chorizo, yummy Talenti gelato in the summer. I’m never without a bottle of Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar. Not only is it great on food, when diluted it makes a great facial toner and hair rinse.

What’s a secret ambition of yours?

To finish the movie Gremlins—long story. Also to finish grad school. I really need to do that too.

What’s wrong with the world?

Monopoly. Both the board game and the economic condition.

What’s right with the world?

Ewoks

Who are your heroes and why?

My mother and my maternal-grandmother. Growing up they were always showing me the value of hard work and loving others.

Covenant Valley Farm: One of Daily’s Treasured Farms

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Nolan Kennedy gives a tour to our local produce buyer, Jane

In 2009, Nolan and Annie Kennedy and their children moved from a San Antonia, Texas suburb. They were seeking change and the kids asked that keeping animals be part of that change.

In 2009, the Kennedys bought a house on eight acres in the Oglethorpe County community of Smithonia. They originally intended to use the land for a few horses, but their property has grown to approximately 30 acres and they now own and operate Covenant Valley Farm. Additionally, they lease 45 acres to raise cattle.

covenantchickenOn Thursdays, Nolan and Annie deliver freshly laid eggs to Daily. Their flock of pasture-raised chickens includes Bard Rocks, Red Stars and Black Stars. Also included in the flock are a Red Bourdon turkey tom and hen, Mr. and Mrs. George. All are fed cracked corn and conventional feed.

The Kennedys also farm grass-fed Angus beef, pasture-raised pork, sheep used for shearing, and honey bees. Nolan started keeping bees when he was 12-years-old. Covenant Valley’s hives are Certified Naturally Grown, and Nolan was the first CNG beekeeper in Georgia!

The cattle and pigs are raised without hormones, steroids or antibiotics. Pastures are managed without the use of herbicides, pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. Instead, the Kennedys use sustainable practices such as crop-rotation and cover-cropping.covenantcow

Covenant Valley Farm products are available at Daily, through the Oconee Farmers’ Market, Athens Locally Grown, and on the farm’s website. Beef and pork deliveries are available in Oglethorpe, Clarke, Oconee, Jackson, and Elbert counties.

Written by Jane Link

Spotlight on some of our favorite breweries!

Today we’d like to spotlight two breweries whose products are new to Daily that we’re really excited about carrying.

Highland Brewing Company, based in Asheville NC, has one of the more comprehensive green approaches we’ve come across in our research. They repurpose equipment; give spent grain to a local farmer to feed his cows; use a high-efficiency, low-emissions boiler; continually innovate to find ways to reduce water usage, and use locally-sourced Porter_pairminimally-processed packaging. They also have a program of environmental stewardship, through which they partner with many river and wildlife preservation organizations. We could go on and on – it’s clear that an ethos of environmental responsibility pervades their business model. We’re truly happy to support their efforts by carrying their fine beer.

Currently we have their Oatmeal Porter, a perfect winter beer, and we’ll be offering other selections from them as time goes on. Read more about their great practices here.

Headwaters-BottleVictory Brewing Company has been concerned about the environment since opening in 1996. They’ve made many improvements along the way, including the installation of 345 solar panels. We’re currently carrying their Headwaters Pale Ale – a portion of the sales go to fund the Headwater Grant. The Grant funds various organizations that protect the Brandywine Watershed.

Let us know what you think of these brews. Hope they’re as good to you as they are to the environment!

It’s a Big Deal: Membership in the National Cooperative Grocers Association

In October of 2013, Daily Groceries Co-op was accepted as an associate member of the National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA).   This is a tremendous milestone for our co-op.  Why does a simple membership in a professional association matter so much?

The NCGA embodies what it means to be a co-op.  Even before we were members, the staff of NCGA reached out and supported Daily as we made our structural changes over the last two years.

Who is NCGA?

A professional association founded in 1999, NCGA serves 136 food co-ops operating nearly 180 stores in 37 states with combined annual sales of over $1.5 billion.  As a co-op ncgalogothat has joined only recently, we can attest to the fact that NCGA goes above and beyond to support the food co-op community.  The support that NCGA offers directly to its members trickles down to struggling non-members through the co-op spirit.  Daily has certainly been benefiting throughout the last 2 years from the support of NCGA members.

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Three Rivers Co-op’s fancy new store!

When Daily was looking at the big changes ahead, we were directed to reach out to co-ops in other cities that had once been like us, in size and financials — and that had recently grown into thriving one-stop stores that served their community and offered good-paying jobs.  In particular, Three Rivers Co-op in Knoxville invited us up to see an NCGA store audit in-action.  General Managers from several stores in the greater region came to Knoxville to walk through their new store and offer evaluation of what was working and what could be done better.  At this meeting, we made a connection with New Leaf in Tallahassee, Florida.  A staff visit to New Leaf played a critical role in our journey to choose the right point of sale system, a significant investment for Daily in 2013.

Daily had the courage and wherewithal to make the changes you have seen in the last year in large part thanks to the guidance and support from our peers and professional community.  NCGA is the backbone in that professional community.

What does it mean for Daily to be an NCGA Associate Member?

Staff Training:  NCGA offers a wide spectrum of training programs for all departments of a grocery co-op and we are busily taking advantage of them.  Lily, our produce manager, met many of her peers for the first time at a Produce Excellence training in North Carolina in October.   We think our produce department has already benefited from that experience. Drew, our deli manager hopes to have a similar opportunity in March of this year while many other staff members are busy taking advantage of the online NCGA training opportunities.

Store investment:  In 2013 Daily invested in more staff,  a new point of sale system and a few new floor shelves.  As we look to build our investments going forward, NCGA offers guidance from experienced staff with a wealth of food co-op knowledge.  We are currently reaching out to them for help with a potential store re-set and long-term business plan support.

Purchasing discounts:  Although we are not yet eligible for the larger scale purchasing discounts with our primary distributor (see below on what full membership would mean), we are eligible for discounts on a number of everyday store supplies such as coffee cups, grocery bags and deli containers.  We hope you have noticed the fancy new co-op  “stronger together”  bags, napkins and cups. As our cost of goods comes down, we can focus on keeping our retail prices down. We have also just taken advantage of a purchasing discount with our vitamin supplier, Country Life.  We are passing the entire discount down in the retail price– please check it out!

Full membership one day…

In 2013 Daily Groceries crossed the $1 million in gross sales threshold. Full membership in NCGA will require a minimum of $2 million in sales.  If we were to grow sales by 20% every year (likely this year, but quite a challenge to sustain that level of growth for several years), we would reach this number in 4 years – by the end of 2017.

As full members of NCGA, we would be eligible for the kind of discounts the big chains get.  The membership of NCGA represents $1.5 billion in annual sales, which means a combined buying power that allows the little community stores to compete with the big guys.  As a point of comparison, Whole Foods’ annual earnings are $12.9 billion which gives them tremendous buying power.

As more co-op grocery stores across the US grow and come together through NCGA, we all grow stronger. NCGA helps all these co-ops work together to create better places to shop, eat and learn, which makes each co-op so much stronger in this ever-changing food marketplace of today. Through our membership in NCGA we can provide our owners and customers with better customer service, better products and just a better Daily.  The benefits of our membership will grow as we grow, and we can’t wait to share those benefits with you.  Our community driven co-ops truly are stronger together – thank you NCGA.

By Andrea Malloy, General Manager