Spring Coop Updates and General Meeting Reminder

March 26, 2021

Hello Coop Member,

The General Coordinators have a lot of information to share with you in this update. The majority of this letter focuses on the plans for the return of member labor but there is additional information regarding the March 30 GM and other operational issues.

It has been one year since the suspension of the Coop’s member labor work requirement and though we have managed superbly with the assistance of our pandemic support staff, the Coop, like the City, is moving towards planning for the resumption of more “normal” operations. Key to restoring the Coop’s strong financial position in this recovery and rebuilding phase is reinstating the requirement for all eligible members to work a shift at the Coop. The current goal is to return to the mandatory member labor system by July.

Now that we are fully in the planning process, we want to share with you the preparatory steps we plan to take between now and mid-May. The Coop’s heart and soul, and the foundation of all our success over the years, is our unique member labor model. The Coop cannot sustain itself for much longer without the return of working members. Your participation in these steps is important to make this return a success.

Return of Coop’s Mandatory Member Labor System

Planning for the return of the Coop’s mandatory member labor system includes determining shift sizes and frequency. To accomplish this we need to know how many members are available to work and what type of work members will do to contribute most effectively to our operation. Essentially, we need a more accurate estimate of the size of the working member population.

From analyzing shopping data, we’ve learned that 35% of pre-Covid shoppers have not shopped at the Coop since March 2020  — that is a large portion of our pre-COVID working/shopping population. We are working on the assumption that Coop members who have not shopped at the Coop in the past year are most likely unavailable to do a work slot in July. We know that some members’ lives have changed significantly since March 2020 and the size of the Coop membership is most likely smaller than it was 12 months ago.

To determine the size of the working member population and how we will structure the member labor system to best support Coop operations, we request members take the following actions:

STEP 1: Inform the Coop If You Are NOT Available To Work

Coop members can now request via foodcoop.com:

  1. Temporary or permanent leave from the Coop. If you know now that you or members of your household will not be available starting in July, we are asking that you formally take a leave from the Coop. By taking a leave, you will help us have a more accurate understanding of the size of the Coop membership available to work.
    For more information, follow this link https://www.foodcoop.com/leave/
  2. Temporary COVID work exemption for members who are at high risk for severe complications from COVID and will not be ready to return to a work shift. This temporary exemption will allow affected Coop members to continue to shop at the Coop without having to fulfill the work requirement before August 31. To learn more about this exemption and to apply, sign in to your Member Services account, select “Virtual Office,” and “Submit Member Request”.

The Coop follows CDC guidance on determining who is at high risk for severe complications from COVID. Please read the CDC guidance for more information, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/index.html

Follow this link to access Member Services or to set-up a Member Services account: https://members.foodcoop.com/services/login/

STEP 2: Join or Rejoin the Coop

If you belong to one of these two groups of people, you are now welcome to join/rejoin the Coop:

  1. Former members
  2. Housemates or family members that live with a current Coop member

Further information about how to join/rejoin is available at https://www.foodcoop.com/rejoin/

If you or someone in your household is ready to rejoin/join, please visit the second-floor service desk from 9:00 a.m. ‑ 7:00 p.m. daily.

STEP 3: Survey to Members about their Willingness to Return to Mandatory Coop Work Slots

In order to understand member sentiment around the timing of return to work and ensure we gather a broad range of member feedback, a brief survey will be sent to members whose current status indicates they will be required to work when it again becomes mandatory. An online survey will reach a much larger percentage of the membership more quickly than any other forum currently available to members

IMPORTANT: Members on any kind of Coop work exemption (such as disability or elder) will not receive the survey. We are not gathering data from members whose work assignments indicate that they are not in the pool of members who will be required to work starting in July.

Look for an email with a link to the survey to hit your inbox on March 31. The survey will close on April 15, and a summary of responses will be published by the end of April.

What Will the Member Labor System Look Like in July?

Returning to a mandatory member-labor system is not as easy as flipping a switch. Current public health guidelines point to the continuation of social distancing protocols and limits on indoor capacities for some months to come. These measures mean that the Coop will need to be able to modify the number of members working and shift times to meet these protocols and any future guidelines.

Flexibility is key to designing a member-labor system that meets the Coop’s needs. The plan is to develop a system that allows members remote access to manage their work requirement, make adjustments to our shift needs, times and sizes in real-time, and provide tools to gather feedback for future decisions. Member Services will be an important feature to a more flexible work system, and when the member-labor requirement is reinstated in July, the repeating 4-week ABCD system will not initially be used. Members will be using Member Services with 24/7 online access to view available shifts, to schedule each shift they work, and to cancel shifts up to the day before.

As we gather more data from members and input staff, a detailed plan will be developed to meet the Coop’s operational needs as the Coop return to our previous membership size, shopping volume, and hours. Additional information will be shared with members later this spring. As the Coop returns to member labor, the Coop will follow all current public health guidelines to continue to ensure the safety of members and staff.

March 30 General Meeting

So much of the change we have experienced as a Coop community since the onset of the pandemic has been about creating distance. One important way to continue to connect to the Coop and play a role in the Coop’s democracy is to attend the March General Meeting.

All Coop members interested in attending must register in advance to receive the Zoom invite. *Registration closes at 5:00 p.m. on Tues., March 30.

Register to attend the March 30 GM: https://www.foodcoop.com/gmsignup/

At the March meeting, the five candidates for the Board of Directors will make candidate statements and answer questions from members. This is a great opportunity to get to know your candidates and be prepared for the Annual Meeting election in June.

March General Meeting Agenda: https://www.foodcoop.com/gmagenda/

The Coop’s 4-week financial statement will be presented during the Treasurer’s report, and questions from members will be taken. Follow this link to preview the financial statement prior to the meeting:


High-risk and Senior Hours UPDATE

Shopping hours for the Coop’s high-risk and senior (65+) members have changed as of March 24. The new hours are EVERY Thursday from 8:00 – 10:00 a.m. General population members are welcome to enter starting at 10:00 a.m. The Coop follows CDC guidelines to define high-risk and senior members. Please go to CDC.gov for more information.

Increase in Number of Shoppers Allowed in Coop

We’ve recently increased the number of shoppers allowed in the store to 45 from 41. The increase shortens the wait time for members outside on-line and helps to improve the Coop’s bottom line while still keeping the total capacity of the Coop’s shopping floor below the New York State guidelines. The number of people in each aisle has also increased: 6 people per regular aisle and 15 in the produce area are now allowed.

Shorter Waiting Time

The time waiting in line outside the Coop has reduced dramatically over the past many months. At most times throughout the week, there is little to no line to enter the Coop. The busiest days are Friday and Saturday, and mid-week (Tue, Wed, or Thur) are typically the slowest shopping days. Of course, weather, school vacations, and holidays impact the wait times but in general, these are the trends that have emerged. If your schedule allows, we recommend shopping mid-week to avoid the possibility of waiting in line.

Many members still fear the LONG line outside the Coop. If you are not waiting in line or you’re waiting a short while, let your friends know and encourage them to return to shopping at the Coop. Reluctance to shop at the Coop because there might be a line continues to hurt the Coop’s revenues. Please help us dispel that lingering perception by sharing your shopping experience with your Coop friends.

Thank you for your attention to all this information and for continuing to support your Coop over this long year. Over the next several months, many changes will be coming to the Coop as we move closer to the resumption of our normal activities. Please continue to check in via @foodcoop on Twitter or IG for the latest updates from the Coop.

Continue to Stay safe! Wear your mask! Watch your distance!

In cooperation,

Ann Herpel on behalf of the General Coordinator Team