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Voices / Letters from readers

Putney Co-op ‘walks the talk,’ putting principles into action

The writer serves as president of the Putney Food Co-op board of directors.

RE: “” [, Nov. 30]:

Is the Putney Food Co-op losing its principles to the “corporatist future of America”?

I don’t think so. Some tangible evidence and hard facts would be helpful when evaluating the health and values of the Putney Food Co-op. Just look around — it’s not hard to find our principles in action.

Walk into the store. It is a vibrant, local, independent market.

Those photos you see of our local farmers, community members, and board members aren’t just decor, they celebrate our thriving community and the Co-op’s key role in it.

It’s a good place to work. Talk to our great staff; they’d be happy to help you. (And they just might have some local news!)

This business is a true community asset. As a result of its growth and success it is able to support a multitude of community organizations and events. Among them:

• Facilitating the Putney Farmer’s Market, the Community Garden, the Community Suppers, and the regional food co-ops’ Food for All needs-based discount program.

• Sponsoring and coaching two student “Iron Chef” teams.

• Starting and sustaining the healthy snack program in the Putney Central School.

• Working with Discover Putney to promote our community and its businesses.

• Providing scores of donations and staff hours every year to local clubs and organizations.

• Raising funds and awareness for the Vermont Foodbank and NOFA-VT’s Farm Share program

• Offering a shopping and delivery service for our housebound members.

• Weekly donations to the Putney Foodshelf.

• Leading our region in raising awareness of the importance of food security and food access.

• Seeking local growers and producers to promote in our store. We spent more than $700,000 on local products last year!

• Providing good employment for dozens of staff, with opportunity for training and growth as well as fair wages with benefits. More than 280 hours of staff training was provided during our 2014 fiscal year.

These are principles in action — “walking the talk,” as they say.

The Putney Co-op is recognized regionally and nationally for its excellence and as a model for other stores. Its extended community boasts members from all over the Northeast who always stop at their Co-op when visiting or just passing through. This involvement means more support for our outreach programs.

These successes are not merely happenstance. They are a result of years of thoughtful, hard work by skilled and dedicated management, staff, and board members.

To imply that a dark capitalist force is duping these experienced and intelligent people is not just a disservice to the community; it’s not supported by the facts.

The Board of Directors is working to update the Co-op’s bylaws, most of which were written decades ago, to more closely reflect the current operations and policies of the business and to better prepare for success in the future.

The Co-op has changed enormously and will continue to change. Its basic mission and values remain firmly in place, but the business must change and adapt to succeed in the 21st century.

Michael Wells

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Originally published in The Commons issue #291 (Wednesday, February 4, 2015). This story appeared on page C3.

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