Tagged: Feedback collection, GMO, GMO Policy, GMO Policy Draft, GMOs, Jan 26th 2017, Merchandise Policy, Merchandise Policy Draft, Merchandise Policy Member Forum, NGC, Non-GMO Committee, PBRC, Policy and Bylaw Revision Committee, Roundup
January 20, 2017 at 4:43 pm #2074Suzette Snow-CobbKeymaster
Come to the Forum on Thurs. Jan. 26th at the Arts Block, 6 p.m. also you can fill out this brief Merchandise Policy SurveyFebruary 2, 2017 at 5:24 pm #2167
John and Board,
Will you make the feedback collected at the Jan 26th member forum available for others to read? Will you be presenting the merchandise policy proposal to a wider audience for feedback? Seemed like about 10 members there beyond the BoD, MPC and staff. The packet info for that forum was great to read – I wish more members could have access to it – could it be posted on the website, on bulletin boards and be available to take home for others?
When will the feedback collection be completed? (became due last Oct)
Back when the collaborative work of NGC (Non-GMO Committee) and PBRC (Policy and Bylaw Revision Committee) was presented- in Oct 2015 – of the merchandise policy draft (after 16 hours of meetings together) – I remember John saying to the Board that he would like to use the “top level” policy for feedback collection. What becomes of the (lower level) aspects of the merchandise policy draft, which did not get consideration from the board that day, as result of the idea to see if the board agrees on “top level” aspects (which I believe they agreed upon unanimously)? The other aspects which got omitted were the parts which dealt with GMOs at our co-op, which was the reason the Non-GMO committee was working with the board committee on the policy, after we had written a GMO Policy draft.
The polls done at the roundtables at 2015 Annual Meeting indicated wide support for labeling and phasing out of GMOs. This is the feedback that the Non-GMO committee based the GMO policy draft on. I hope this feedback and our work will be taken into consideration, as well as the owner letters in support of reducing and labeling GMOs on the shelves, and all the hundreds of owner signatures that the board received for various actions re member-owners having a voice and a way to effect change at FCC around the Roundup/GMOs in our co-op food offerings.
I hope this dialog will be engaged with and responded to here, so that other concerned owners and I, can know the answers to these questions.
Thank youFebruary 4, 2017 at 2:37 am #2191
hi, Shauna (and other Forum users)
GM John Williams has indicated that he now feels ready to present the draft Merchandise Policy back to the Board, after having gathered input from member-owners and staff. We have discussed putting this on the agenda as part of the extra February Board meeting on Thursday 2/23 at 170 Main St. (which is being held to give the Board the opportunity to review the Multi-Year Plan coming to fruition in time for presentation to ownership at our Annual Meeting on Sunday 3/5).
The inclusion of the draft Merchandise Policy on the 2/23 agenda will be confirmed at the regular February Board meeting this coming Wed. 2/8 at 6:30 at 170 Main St.
When the draft Merchandise Policy is presented back at the Board meeting, the action options range from approving the draft, amending it, or sending it back to the Board’s Policy and Bylaw Revision Committee (P&BRC) for further consideration and development.
Board PresidentFebruary 11, 2017 at 1:50 pm #2222
It has been suggested to me that bringing the MERCHANDISE POLICY draft to the MEMBERS at our Annual Meeting would be an appropriate action for the board to take, with such an important policy in a democratically run cooperative, where “WE OWN IT”, and we have been asking in petitions for members at large to be able to discuss and vote on a policy that addresses GMOs and pesticides. That could be this policy, as was the intention at the outset, had not the parts dealing with GMOs been eliminated from the draft. Member-owners deserve a chance to discuss and vote on whether we want GMO policy to be part of our Board level MERCHANDISE POLICY, and that chance could be our Annual Meeting. Since our General Manager, John Williams, our Board VP, Lynn Benander, and our Board President, George Touloumtzis have been tasked by the Board to finish the plans for the Annual Meeting agenda, it is within the control of the three of you to allow members this involvement with their Merchandise Policy, should you choose to hear us asking for this, and honor it.
February 14, 2017 at 10:49 pm #2245
- This reply was modified 4 years, 2 months ago by Shauna Lynn.
As you know — from your participation on the Membership Engagement Committee that made the recommendation and your regular attendance at Board meetings — the Board voted months ago to have the Multi-Year Plan be the focus of this year’s Annual Meeting.
As you’re also aware, there is another process underway to develop a Board Merchandise policy, the draft of which prioritizes non-GMO verified products as well as increased product labeling. The Oct. 2015 Board meeting vote for John to gather owner (and staff) input re the draft Merchandise policy — affirmed at the Dec. 2015 Board meeting unanimously by the Board and 13-8 by the other owners present — is coming to fruition at the extra February Board meeting (Thurs. 2/23, 6:30, 170 Main St.). After John’s presentation, the Board (and as you know other owners present) will ask clarifying questions, deliberate, and determine the next step(s). It’s possible the draft policy could be voted on at that meeting, but I would guess more realistic is that it would be continued to another Board meeting or sent back to the Policy & Bylaw Revision Committee for further consideration.
Lynn, John & myself — upon delegation from and in service to the Board — are working on the finalized details of the Annual Meeting agenda. The full Board had been involved — via earlier decisions and recent input — in creating the overall structure of the agenda. No member votes were included in the planning beyond the election of Board members. There is a component included to elicit owner feedback re the Multi-Year Plan. At this point, the three questions being considered for the small group session after John’s presentation of the Multi-Year Plan — with one touching on the Merchandise policy issue — are as follows:
1) You’ve just been given an overview of the draft Multi-Year Plan. What’s your feedback on the multi-year plan? What do you like? What’s missing?
2) We’ve expanded McCuskers and we’re planning to expand Green Fields Market. How can we keep a community store feel as we expand?
3) We are affirming our mission to provide affordable, healthy, local food and other products. How might we balance our desire for food justice (access to affordable, healthy food for all) with our desire for premium quality food (organics, nonGMO, no pesticides/artificial ingredients, or synthetic fertilizers)? [emphasis added]
I hope this is helpful.
Board PresidentFebruary 18, 2017 at 7:10 am #2304Gloria KegelesParticipant
It would be helpful if the General Manager and Board of Directors would invite members to come to the board meeting for the purpose of discussing and voting on the items scheduled for vote at the board meeting, so we would have an incentive to attend, rather than not even being allowed to speak, as happened to many members at a December board meeting over a year ago who came to voice their opinions about GMOs and pesticides in our food offerings.
It is nonetheless unfair if you subsequently claim that members had (and didn’t take advantage of) the opportunity to weigh in on these matters at a board meeting — very little notice, no invitation to vote, no mention of face-to-face in-depth discussion by members — and what seems to be an intentional “ban” on discussion/member vote at a member meeting, which is where, one would think in a democratic institution, such major changes are intended to be discussed/voted on by members! Does your small group of about 12 people plus an unknown “advisory council” who were required to have business degrees or experience to be chosen (irrelevant to food health), have the right to make these huge decisions for thousands of owners, who are not being allowed to discuss these matters in our member meetings? It sounds a lot like the Trump Oligarchy (in terms of pretenses to “democracy”).
Is anything being done to add to the members’ annual meeting agenda, member votes on the major decisions coming up with our coop — merchandise policy, expansion, multi-year plan? If it is not policy, how can members re-establish the Right to Vote at member meetings on the major decisions in our democratically-run coop, before these three decisions get enacted?
While it may seem a pesky little point compared to all these big decisions, I believe members foremost need to hold a major conversation and policy vote on definitions of “healthy food” and “food justice” — hopefully food justice doesn’t include selling unhealthy, lower-cost glyphosate-laden food to low-income people, and healthy food doesn’t include items such as local organic vegetable soup made with a base of GMO/glyphosate additives which was recently (and perhaps still is) sold at McCusker’s right beside the sign stating that prepared foods are non-GMO (as was reported to me).
We cannot continue featuring illness-causing food in the name of “food justice”, meaning we cannot encourage low-income people to come to our health food coop to buy equally illness-causing food as they currently buy at supermarkets — it actually sounds unjust in that they’d pay more for equivalent glyphosate-contaminated food.
It would be great if the board members/staff would directly respond and deal with these questions/problems rather than making generalizations about how we want to give everyone these wonderful choices and educate them etc. We mostly don’t even have educated staff making educated decisions about what’s being purchased/sold/prepared in the coop, nor do we feature the healthiest, organic food in our shelf placements and quantities, and frequently demos. We push locally produced foods loaded with pesticides, over equivalent organic foods we also sell that are hard to notice, and run out frequently. I strongly object to hypocrisy and pretense — or unwillingness to know and to act on protecting each other’s health. It’s so much worse when it takes lives — which it does. It doesn’t have to be this way. Oh yeah, food justice!
GloriaFebruary 20, 2017 at 2:05 am #2308
hi again, Gloria
Having heard your perspective on these issues you raise, I want to respectfully respond with my own perspective.
With regard to the December 2015 Board meeting (during which I served as facilitator), here are my recollections: A number of owners interested in the Merchandise Policy issue came with prepared statements they expected to read during the Open Forum agenda item at the start of the meeting. After you had made such a statement, I clarified for those present (some of whom were attending their first Board meeting) that the Open Forum portion is for comments on issues not included in that meeting’s agenda, as has been our standard practice. When we did get to the Merchandise Policy agenda item, every person present had the opportunity to speak as long as they wished and as many times as they wished. We first asked for negative comments on the draft policy, then solicited positive comments, writing them all down. After further discussion/deliberation, a vote was taken. Those owners present voted 23-8 to approve the draft policy being sent to John for up to a year to secure further owner and staff input — the Board vote was 10-0, the non-Board vote 13-8. (This having taken a bit longer than planned due to being incorporated into the Multi-Year Plan process, the report back to the Board is happening at this Thursday’s Board meeting at 170 Main St. The meeting starts at 6:30; the draft Merchandise Policy agenda item is scheduled for after the break at 7:55.)
I also want to clarify some misinformation re the Planning Council:
As an unelected body, it was purely advisory in nature, involved in no decision-making, and was an ad hoc group in the specific context of the development of the Multi-Year Plan.
Overall the group was made up of: 2 Board member-owners, 4 staff (all of whom I believe are also member-owners), 6 non-Board/non-staff member-owners, and 1 non-owner.
Specifically, the participants were:
Deborah Andrew, member-owner
Marilyn Andrews, member-owner
Lynn Benander, Board member
Cyndee Boehmer, member-owner
Emily Gopen, staff
Andy Grant, Board member
Nancy Harriman, staff
Sarah Kanabay, staff
Jay Lord, member-owner
Amy-Louise Pfeffer, Program Coordinator at GCC
Mary Reilly, member-owner + publisher of Edible Pioneer Valley
Suzette Snow-Cobb, staff
Jessica Van Steensburg, member-owner + Exec. Dir. of Just Roots
When you refer to “your small group of about 12 people” plus the Planning Council, I get the impression you’re referring to the Board and the GM. I want to clarify that the Board is the owners’ group of representatives, charged by policy to “act as the link between the member-owners and the cooperative business they own” and to supervise the General Manager on behalf of the owners.
I believe that there are many layers and levels of a valid democratic system:
direct voting on issues;
choosing an elected Board to represent your interests;
running for a seat on the Board;
persuading someone who’s like-minded to run for a seat on the Board;
participating in and voting at Board meetings (per FCC bylaw);
transparent availability of information from the Board;
transparent availability re decision-making processes from the Board;
providing input to influence and inform such decisions;
active Board solicitation re owner values and perspective, via multiple modes and opportunities;
Re your reference to the national political scene, I actually see this as an opportunity to emphasize options to be informed and involved in local democratic processes, including and especially organizations using the cooperative model. (Two confirming anecdotes: the situation in D.C. has been the explicit reason several folks told me they started attending Greenfield Town Council meetings, and — during my “Spend 5 minutes with a Board member” shift today — a woman told me that she’d come to GFM instead of Whole Foods in the face of the Presidential election results specifically because of our cooperative model.)
Gloria, your anger and distrust of process within this organization — of which you are part owner — with regard to an issue you are passionate about is evident, as is your concern that others don’t appreciate how dire the situation is. I’m sorry you are so disheartened.
In the face of such distress and compelling urgency, intemperate speech — such as making accusations of “hypocrisy and pretense” — might seem justified. But I want to instead encourage you to consider the practice of ‘assuming good faith’ when interacting with others in our co-op community. I truly believe that — while sometimes needing to sort through the range of our preferences and priorities — we’re all on the same ‘side’.
Board PresidentFebruary 24, 2017 at 1:38 pm #2341
“Policy and Bylaw Revision Committee (P&BRC)
Presentation Guide for 10/14/15 BOD Meeting
The P&BRC has been working diligently (weekly!) since the beginning of August, since we were charged in July, at the time we were chartered, to collaborate with the non-GMO Committee to draft Board Governance Policy that would address GMO’s. At the August 26th BOD meeting, we announced that we were drafting a more comprehensive Merchandise Policy which would address GMO’s rather than a GMO Policy, per se, and the BOD gave us a nearly unanimous thumbs up to go ahead with this.” Bold added to emphasize the fact that the policy we worked on was for the purpose of addressing GMOs. Now that the portions addressing GMOs have been eliminated, it appears more like this whole process since July of 2015 (when the Non-GMO Committee showed the GMO Policy draft that they would like the members to vote on at a member meeting) has been more about stalling and diverting the issue so that GMOs would NOT be dealt with in a board level policy. With the current Merchandise Policy draft, FCC members and shoppers STILL have no policy protecting them from eating GMOs from prepared food (as River Valley Market does) and I have seen non-organic sugar, soy, canola and corn ingredients in prepared food, despite the staff level guidelines to use organic for these to prevent GMOs from being in the food. There is hardly any prepared food that has no conventional pesticide laden ingredients – one soup is Organic – if you want to not support and ingest pesticides, herbicides, descicants, fungicides, neonecotinoides and synthetic petro-based fertilizers and the environmental havoc that conventional farming methods are causing as well as the health damage from even micro amounts of roundup/glyphosate and other carcinogenic and DNA damaging chemicals in conventional food – there is basically one thing you can get from prepared foods only – soup. Rice and beans also, I believe, is organic, at the hot bar, and salad from the salad bar, if you put no dressing on it. Virtually nothing in the grab and go case, deli case or two bakery cases are without conventional ingredients, that I’m aware of.
FCC shoppers and member-owners as a whole care very much about the environment and the health of the planet, their nearby farmlands, their families and selves – this is why we shop at the co-op instead of conventional grocery stores. We are looking for board level policy that can protect us from unknowingly ingesting roundup-ready GMOs, carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting chemicals as a result of shopping at the co-op. That really does not seem like too much to ask, given what the co-op stands for and seems to be, based on the espoused philosophies and Ends policy of being an innovator of a regenerative food system.
If the Board would represent the members, as they are elected to do, they would include the parts of the Merchandise Policy draft (presented after 16 meeting hours of collaborative work – which the board charged us with to create a Policy that addresses GMOs) which
actually address GMOs
, as members are calling for – labeling and phasing out – wide support was shown for this at the 2015 annual meeting when GMOs were discussed.
- This reply was modified 4 years, 1 month ago by Shauna Lynn.
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