Happy December! I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving. The Co-op was absolutely hopping with a record number of turkeys, impressive amounts of potatoes, cranberries and butter, and many, many happy shoppers. It seemed like we were all thankful to be celebrating a favorite holiday.
One of the things I am most thankful for is our strong local food system. The Farm To Plate team recently reported that 2020 sales of local food and beverages reached $407.5 million, equal to 17.6% of all food and beverage purchases in Vermont. In 2010 the estimate was that 5% of food purchases in-state were local, and the goal for 2030 is 25%. This is impressive progress and well beyond what other states have achieved. Our strategic planning, hard work and local eating is making a real difference environmentally and economically.
Local has always been a core value at Hunger Mountain Co-op, where we serve over 10,000 Co-op members and employ more than 170 community members. Last year, we purchased $7.9 million in goods and services from 390 Vermont businesses. This focus on local is economically vital. Money spent locally is understood to have a potent multiplier effect as it results in more jobs, more tax revenue and even more local spending.
Vermont food is also high-quality food. We are blessed with tasty and plentiful local produce, meats, cheeses, breads, bakery treats and much more. As Co-op members, we understand how this contributes to our individual quality of life. As a business, our co-op thrives in a solid market niche providing some of the finest local foods available anywhere.
To this, I will add that our local food system is resilient and protects us from the vagaries of national supply chains. We have all experienced how the pandemic has wreaked havoc with processing and distribution in virtually all sectors. The Co-op’s local suppliers face these challenges too, but they have done an admirable job keeping us stocked and meeting demand relative to some of the national brands.
I will close with a reminder that we can all have a positive local impact by helping to address food insecurity in our community. The Vermont Foodbank tells us that one in three Vermonters is utilizing food pantries and other supports. There are many ways to contribute, including through the Co-op’s Neighbors Helping Neighbors Food and Fund Drive. Help us unlock matching funds from our community partners with a donation at the cash registers this month or drop pantry staples in our collection boxes. Our goal is to raise $20,000 (estimated to provide over 33,000 meals), and 500 pounds of food, and all proceeds go to the Vermont Foodbank earmarked for central Vermont food pantries.
Thank you for all your support, and have a safe and joyful December.
Kari Bradley, General Manager