Letter from the NFC Board – January 22, 2019

Dear NFC Members,

The NFC board of directors met on Saturday, January 5, to discuss the future of your cooperative. We discussed results from the producer survey and responses from members. Overall, we can report that the level of support has been very positive.

The vision and objectives outlined below represent the feelings of the board, and a reflection of the comments we have received. It is our sense that NFC customers want a close connection with those small/family producers who take time to provide quality products. As a whole, our membership does not seem to be as interested in large producers, or those whose approach is to harvest food quickly and/or just throw it in a bag with a label. In effect, we want the best food money can buy, with attention to quality practices, nutrients, animal welfare, local economics, and the Nebraska “Good Life.” We want to hear if you disagree with these understandings or proposed actions. Members can respond in the “Leave a Reply” box below (comments will be made public unless requested otherwise).

Summarizing that into a few points, the reasons for our actions going forward are to…

  • Be a reliable source for consistently high-quality food
  • Expand quality food diversity and availability for NFC shoppers
  • Be a proponent for Nebraska family farms and other providers of quality food
  • Simplify marketing and transport challenges for small producers
  • Establish/restore the reputation of NFC as a respected brand in the marketplace

Almost immediately, we plan to…

  • Begin to fill key cooperative tasks with member volunteers (customers and producers)
  • Open the next order cycle in February, for planned delivery on February 20
  • Temporarily suspend the accounts of members who have not responded about being involved and who have not made other arrangements
  • Set producer and customer margins (markdown/markup) to match actual transportation costs
  • Eliminate the delivery charge, which will be folded into the calculated margins
  • Waive annual membership fees for customers who are volunteering to help with NFC tasks

In the short term, we plan to…

  • Continue to enlist members and producers to perform small NFC tasks
  • Establish producer standards (what sort of producers/products do we want?)
  • Establish tight product packaging standards to ensure quality during shipping
  • Regularly adjust product margins to meet the actual cost of running the cooperative

In the longer term, we plan to…

  • Revisit our membership fees and requirements to ensure they make sense
  • Investigate transitioning from a cooperative to a non-profit corporation
  • Make payments to reduce outstanding debt

With these changes, it is our belief that a clear focus and attention to meaningful quality will bring back many customers, as well as inspire new customers. We need to stop being all things to all people. We are shaking things up considerably, and it may be a while before we find a new equilibrium. However, we believe that the concerted efforts of all our caring members can make NFC a better organization than we have yet seen.

Transition is a challenge for any organization. As we work through these changes, we expect producers and product options will be reduced for a while. As a result, cycle volumes might be limited and we may need to limit ordering frequency to optimize transportation cost. These are all trade-offs. In effect, we might expect our cooperative to contract in size – possibly even as far as when it started in 2006. Hopefully, the contraction will not be that extreme, but we want to be realistic with our expectations.

Thank you for your involvement.
We look forward to serving and working with you all.

The NFC Board

Welcome Andrew – NFC’s Newest Advisory Board Member!

There are times when one just knows the fit is right.  And that awareness came from both directions pretty much at the same time.

Andrew Hollister, a new NFC producer, has been singing NFC’s praises.  Just some of Andrew’s recent comments to our staff:

By the way, I am blown away that I got orders this first week on the site. I was not expecting any at all. So for me to have sold multiple items more than met my expectations out of the gate.”

“…nothing was harvested that wasn’t already sold. Greatly reducing over harvesting.”

Glad to be adding more to the NFC family. Really, I firmly believe in what you guys do for everyone involved.”

It still amazes me how well your site connects producers and consumers. Just wonderful. I will continue to try to be your best spokesperson as I strongly agree with your concept and design.”

And then Andrew posted this gem on the NSAS list-serv: “I know there are a lot of producers out there like me who don’t have a lot of time to be at the markets. So I just wanted to share that we found Nebraska Food Coop and have products selling out in the first week. On-the-farm pickup from the delivery truck and only a small annual fee to participate. I am not getting paid or anything to mention this, I just want to let more people know that it exists.”

Finding a strong supporter of NFC’s model, the General Manager recommended him for an Advisory Board member role to which the board immediately agreed.

So welcome, Andrew!  It’s great to have you on board!

 

New Executive Board

According to NFC ByLaws, executive board members are voted by the board for a one-year term at the board meeting immediately following the Annual Membership meeting, which was held in September at the Fontenelle Forest Nature Center.

Fall is the season for change, and NFC is not exempt.

Roy Guisinger, NFC’s long-time Chief Information Officer, asked to step down as CIO to fill an Advisory Board member’s role. During his long tenure as NFC’s volunteer programmer, Roy has contributed thousands of hours of software enhancements that has become the backbone of our producer/member cooperative. Without Roy’s dedication in keeping NFC’s system in solid working order, we would not be the organization that we are today.

Another long-tenured board member Stephanie Kennedy, who served as Vice President, asked to step off the executive committee due to her heavy schedule of raising a young child and working on her doctorate in local food systems.

Gary Fehr and Lanette Stec, two of our many committed board members, stepped into the CIO and VP roles, respectively. They will serve on the executive board alongside Randy Wattermann, President; Liz Sarno, Secretary; and Jeremiah Picard, Treasurer.

We will continue to be in good hands with our strong board as NFC continues down the road to sustainability.

Banquet and Annual Membership Meeting

Banquet2014TablesCroppedFifty-eight members and guests enjoyed a first-class evening celebrating NFC at Fontenelle Forest Nature Center Sunday, September 14. (See Banquet Picture Gallery.)

Tim Rinne, one of the founders of Lincoln’s Hawleys Hamlet, spoke eloquently about the connection between climate change and the food on our plates. Fabulous cuisine served by The Normandy was definitely  bon appetit!

Volunteers, site coordinators, and board members were recognized for their eight years of dedication in bringing local food to the eastern third of the state.

Moving into the required annual membership meeting, the requisite quorum was easily met with plenty of voting members present and interested in sharing their ideas.

Exciting opportunities are on the horizon with NFC’s expansion west along the I-80 corridor with the opening of the new Ogallala site late September. As interest continues to build for local food (which supports the Nebraska economy), NFC will not only expand into new retail areas, but is starting to sell wholesale to institutions (schools, restaruants, stores, hospitals, among other businesses).

Many fortuitous connections await. If you have a connection that you’d like us to act upon, whether it be a new producer, new instituition, or new drop site,  just send Caryl, our General Manager, an email with the particulars. Caryl may be reached at: (gm@nebraskafood.org)

New Slate of Board Officers

The count is in for this year’s new board officers.

Incumbents Libby Broekemeier and Roy Guisinger were elected once again, along with back-to-the-board member Gary Fehr.

As one NFC member wrote on their ballot, “All are WONDERFUL and we are lucky to have them!”

Thank you, voting members, for casting your support for these tireless advocates.

 

 

Election of NFC Board of Directors

Since 2006, the Nebraska Food Cooperative has been run mostly by a very active and dedicated board of directors. Some of them are still the original incorporators of our organization. Recent changes have now enabled NFC to actually pay our general manager (formerly a volunteer position) to handle many of the business activities that were previously performed by board members. This bodes very well for the future of NFC.

Meanwhile, it is time to schedule elections. This year, terms for three board members are expiring and need to be filled.  Board directors serve three-year terms that start in September, are expected to attend monthly board meetings (in-person and conference call meetings), and participate in email board discussions.

If you are interested in running for a director position, please send your intention statement/biography  (100-200 words) and  picture (jpg) to our general manager (gm@nebraskafood.org) no later than July 31.

On the other hand, if you aren’t quite ready to participate as a director of NFC, we also have an advisory board where you can get your feet wet and participate in co-op decisions without any of the responsibilities. The advisory board makes an excellent starting position for members wanting to be more involved and/or exploring the possibility of a term as a director.  Although it is encouraged, there is no requirement to be a member of the advisory board prior to being elected as a director.

Early next month, voting members will receive a biography of each candidate, voting instructions, and a ballot.

Please note that director positions are only available to voting members and only voting members are entitled to vote for board directors.

 

Board Update & Large Order Discount

From the NFC Board:

The NFC board of directors last met on May 27, 2014. Among other business, there was some great discussion about pricing and deliveries.

Members are always welcome to attend board meetings (scheduled every other month) and are encouraged to become involved as advisory board members. If you are interested in directly supporting your coop in this capacity, contact Caryl Guisinger, the general manager at gm@nebraskafood.org.

 

Large Order Discount: $600+:

Among other decisions from the May board meeting, orders over a $600 value will receive a 10% discount. We hope to roll out some additional savings in the future, but this is our way to start making your food bills more affordable.

Little-known fact: Although it has never been advertised, most large orders also receive personal home deliveries by Kevin, our route driver. This has been one of NFC’s best-kept secrets for several years, and now we’re letting the cat out of the bag. There could be some circumstances when a home delivery is not possible, but we haven’t discovered any yet.

NFC Forum List – Your Opinion Matters

youropinionmattersWe are seeking opinions about how NFC members would like to see their Forum List utilized.

The purpose of the Forum is to share relevant NFC news, discussions, and as a means for increasing exposure and participation. However, we also realize that many people like to minimize their e-mail volume.

Currently, all new members are automatically subscribed to the NFC Forum (ie, an Opt-Out forum: members may OPT-OUT of the list at any time).

So, we would like to hear from you for a short TWO QUESTION survey: 1) Do you prefer an: OPT-IN or OPT-OUT forum, and 2)  what topics you would like to see on your forum. Help us improve the forum by sharing your opinion on this SURVEY MONKEY poll by the end of June.

Thank you for your time, interest, and support in improving your NFC experience.

NFC Movers and Shakers

Keeping NFC Strong
Keeping NFC Strong

The DEDICATION of every single one of these MOVERS and SHAKERS ensure that NFC’s collective wheels keeps delivering healthy local food to you every other week.   Show them your appreciation the next time you see them!

President:   Randy Wattermann
Vice President:  Stephanie Kennedy
Secretary:   Liz Sarno
Treasurer:   Jeremiah Picard
Chief Information Officer:   Roy Guisinger

Board Members: 
Bob Bernt, Libby Broekemeier, Jim Knopik, Lanette Stec

Advisory Committee Members: Frannie Bruening, Laura Chisholm, Gary Fehr, Rebecka Fleischman, Liz Frombgen, Brynn Jacobs, Luke Jacobsen, Jeff Kazor, John Johnson, Beth Kernes Krause, Brian O’Malley, Katie Wattermann

Site Coordinators:  Adam Hoogeveen, Shelly Grimm, Beth Farleigh, Beth Kernes Krause, Bruce Reneaud, Libby Broekemeier, Al Mittan, Tammy Kuper, Jill Hansen, Heidi Slaymaker, Francine Bruening, Paul Verderfecht, Yvonne Wilder, Sandi Hohn, Randy Wattermann, William Powers, Susan Stoppkotte, Lanette Stec, Phyllis Randall, Danna Seevers, Laura Chisholm, Catherine Renshaw

Logistics Coordinator:  Beth Kernes Krause

Delivery Driver:  Kevin Krause

General Manager:   Caryl Guisinger