A Quick Word Before the Vote
Valued Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op Members,
As we head into the final few days of voting on the 2018 Articles and Bylaws Update, we wanted to take the time to ensure that you have accurate information about these important updates. Reasonable individuals can disagree, and we fully support a healthy debate and are eager to answer your questions. That’s why we want to specifically address some inaccuracies that we have seen promulgated about the articles and bylaws update.
We, as your Board of Directors, are elected with your faith that we will uphold the cooperative principles and act ethically with our store’s best interests in mind. As such, we, the Board, have undergone this process in a manner that is:
- Democratic: Bringing these articles and bylaws to a vote before our membership is the definition of cooperative democracy. Additionally, in updating our articles and bylaws we solicited feedback from randomly selected focus groups of members to ensure our policies align with your vision for the future of our store. Much like we don’t expect the average person to represent his or herself in court, we also shouldn’t expect the average member to draft our legally binding articles and bylaws that comply with federal and state codes. What we should expect, however, is the opportunity to vote on these changes – which is exactly what is taking place this week.
- Fair: We have heard arguments that the Board is not being fair in its dissemination of information. Since the updated articles and bylaws were approved by the Board, we have taken the utmost care to publish only the facts, staying away from “partisan” or “biased” information. For instance, the sole ‘Con’ argument submitted to the board during this process did not meet signature or accuracy requirements and thus the board opted to remove both pro and con statements from the final ballot packet, rather than publishing only the pro statement.
- Transparent: We have heard the argument that these changes will lessen transparency and access to your Board. We want you to know this is not the case at all. While the proposed articles and bylaws only mandate one annual member meeting, this does not mean you will only have one opportunity to talk to the Board about your vision for our Co-op. In fact, the Board has already implemented more frequent “Co-op Conversations,” which will give members the opportunity to discuss their ideas with the Board on a smaller scale, increasing engagement and serving to make us better representatives of our membership. Our current quarterly meeting structure is costly, and draws only 20 members out of our 10,000 active members. By focusing on one yearly meeting, we can more efficiently use our resources and engage more of our members in a yearly meeting and celebration, while engaging with a larger variety of members through co-op conversations during the year.
Each of us have different reasons for serving on the Board, but we all have one very important thing in common – a love and passion for our Co-op, which provides a space for community connections, champions the highest quality products and ingredients and celebrates our vibrant heritage. We’re all long-time co-op members who value the organic and sustainable foods and the opportunity to support the multi-generational family farms that supply us with the best produce in the area. It is disheartening to hear that a small group of members believe we are acting in self-interest to “Walmartize” our Co-op, rather than serving our store and doing what we believe to be the best (and only) way to ensure our store will thrive for generations to come.
While most cooperatives around the country update their articles and bylaws every 10 years or so, this is the first time we are undertaking a slate revision in our 45-year history. No matter your vote, we truly value your participation in this once-in-a-generation democratic process. It’s this spirit of democracy that has allowed our store to remain a valued part of the Sacramento community since 1973.
Your Sacramento Natural Foods
Co-op Board of Directors
Michelle Mussuto, President
Joel Erb, Vice President
Hilary Sisson, Secretary
Chris Tucker, Treasurer
Delfina Vargas, Member
Charles Fitzpatrick, Member
Raymond Gonzalez, Member