STORY BY CRAIG LIGHT
Brattleboro’s downtown offers a hip art scene, delicious eateries, and unique boutique shopping. Perhaps its most well-known denizen is its incredible Food Co-op.
Fresh produce fills display stands. Coolers are brimming with an assortment of local cheeses. Rows of plants stand at the ready, waiting to add extra pops of color to local homes. The deli offers delicious prepared dishes of all varieties, including vegan options.
But the Brattleboro Food Co-op is not just a health food store. One of its primary principles is “Concern for Community,” which is reflected in the in-house structure and community initiatives. The food may be the hook, but it is the co-op’s true focus on community that will reel you in.
Each year, the co-op holds an annual meeting to share information and to give the opportunity to anyone in the community to run for the board. For those that don’t want to commit to the board (but still want to be involved) Brattleboro Food Co-op’s Shareholder Program is a great option. By investing to join in the cooperative ownership, shoppers are not only supporting the co-op, but also, in turn, supporting local farms, businesses, families, and non-profits.
One of the Co-op’s many community- oriented programs focuses on educating shoppers on the different products sold throughout the co-op. The program is called WHOO KNEW! and features their Owl, “Dr. Hoo” offering fun facts around the store.
Their “Round Up for Change” program creates incredible connectivity with the Brattleboro community. It’s a simple concept that has made a big impact. At checkout, the cashiers ask shoppers if they want to “round up” their purchase to the nearest dollar. The excess funds collected support a community contribution. Each month, the co-op cycles its donation among not-for-profit organizations to be the programs beneficiaries, affecting change throughout Brattleboro.
Since December 2020, the “Round Up for Change” program has been consistently able to provide support to other local organizations. In 2021 alone, they raised $84,683 through the program, benefiting organizations like Food Connects, Boys & Girls Club of Brattleboro, Brattleboro Area Hospice, and the Vermont Releaf Collective, to name a few. More information about how local non-profits can be considered for the Co-op’s “Round Up for Change” program can be found on the Co-op’s website.
This past July, the two recipients of the funds were the Southern Vermont Therapeutic Riding Center and Vermont Adult Learning.
The Southern Vermont Therapeutic Riding Center provides therapeutic riding lessons and horsemanship to special needs youth and adults from Windham County and the surrounding area. For them, the funds will help subsidize the cost of therapeutic riding lessons in order to make them affordable to all.
Vermont Adult Learning offers programs which include basic education and literacy, high school completion, GED tutoring and testing, courses for English Language Learners (and more), all for free. Their “Round Up” funds will be used for their Student Assistance Fund, which is designed to overcome barriers to student learning—such as providing bus tickets or gas money to get to a class, money for childcare in order to take a test, or work boots for job training, etc.
As of July 2022, the Brattleboro Food Co-op has been able to help nearly 30 local organizations since the program began.
ALL THE DETAILS