International Co-op Day set for July 1

MIDDLEBURY — On July 1, Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op will join co-ops around the world in celebrating International Co-op Day. The United Nations and the International Co-operative Alliance have commemorated this day annually since 1923.
This year, at a time of increasing economic inequality, co-ops and credit unions are highlighting how their businesses can offer a solution by contributing to economic inclusion and building community wealth.
“Co-op Day is an opportunity for co-ops and their members to look at how we contribute to international efforts to address economic inequality,” said Bonnie Hudspeth, member programs manager of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA), a federation of more than 35 food co-ops across the Northeast, locally owned by more than 120,000 people from all walks of life. “When our needs are not being met — whether it’s for things like food, credit, jobs or insurance — co-ops offer a way for people to meet those needs, together.”
The theme of inclusion builds on the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which seeks to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change over the next 15 years. As democratic, community-based businesses, co-ops have a unique role to play in these efforts.
Here in our region, food co-ops have been at the forefront of efforts to build a fair, just and sustainable economy. And over the past few years, NFCA member co-ops have been working together to share strategies for ensuring that healthy food and co-op member-ownership are available to everyone.
Observed internationally on the first Saturday in July, Co-op Day coincides with Independence Day celebrations here in the United States. Supporters of the co-operative business model point out that it is based on the principle of one member one vote, and say that co-ops reflect American ideals of democracy, mutual self-help, and equality.
“The co-operative model is unique in that it empowers people to work together to meet their needs through jointly owned, democratically governed businesses,” said Erbin Crowell, NFCA executive director. “It should come as no surprise that co-ops have been part of American history from our beginnings and continue to play a key role in building vibrant local communities, creating good, sustainable jobs, and contributing to a stronger, more resilient economy.”
For more information visit www.nfca.coop.

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