CGIN Highlights New Services

The Cooperative Grocers Information Network -- CGIN -- held its fifth annual meeting at the June CCMA conference this year. For those of you who were unable to join us, highlights included:

  • election of Pam Mehnert (Outpost Natural Foods) and Anne Hopkins (Good Foods Co-op) to the board of directors;
  • special thanks and recognition to John Mullé for his four years of service on the CGIN board of directors;
  • distribution of CGIN's newest mousepad -- featuring the cover artwork for our new online publication called "How to Start a Food Co-op" -- to groups that made donations to CGIN's scholarship fund in the past year or contributed at least five items to our website for sharing;
  • pledges from 21 members for new items, deli recipes, or an exhibit for our photo gallery, making each eligible for mousepads;
  • special recognition to the three co-ops that have contributed over 25 items to the CGIN site: Wedge Community Co-op, Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society, and Outpost Natural Foods.

In addition, we announced two new initiatives. The first is a new service that we expect to make available on our website sometime this fall -- a "virtual trade show." This will be a place where you can go to see featured equipment or product information from manufacturers and suppliers. We welcome your suggestions on how we can make this section most valuable to you.

Secondly, Carolee Colter made a presentation about a new project that she will be coordinating. The Co-op Livable Wage Project aims to develop a model that co-ops can use to address concerns about livable wages for their staff and to assess what would be a "livable wage" for their local area. Co-ops that are funding this project are GreenStar Co-op (Ithaca, NY), Brattleboro Food Co-op (Brattleboro, VT), and the two Midwest Cooperative Grocers Associations (Twin Cities Natural Food Co-ops and CGA-Midwest). More information about this project will be communicated via our listserve.

For those of you who don't monitor our site on a regular basis, the following is a sampling of some of the new items added to our website in the past couple of months:

  • background information for board candidates
  • notes from this year's CCMA workshop for board presidents
  • election policies and procedures
  • over 50 new salad recipes
  • grievance policies and procedures
  • materials for organizing cooking and consumer information classes
  • a worksheet about how to improve margins
  • a training program for staff about basic food/nutrition information
  • a couple dozen newsletter articles on a wide variety of topics

Our listserve helps co-op managers, staff, directors, and members to communicate with one another every day. Recent topics of discussion have included:

  • using policy governance and how it interfaces with bylaws and membership functions
  • co-op policies regarding in-store music, staff dress, and nepotism
  • providing information about herbs and supplements
  • benefits for "visiting" members
  • voting and elections procedures
  • network news about Frontier and North Farm
  • payroll advances to co-op staff
  • "no match" letters from the Social Security Administration or IRS
  • experiences with different bulk food systems
  • member loan payback policies


CGIN How To Start mousepad
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For information about subscribing to our listserve, see There you'll also find a link to our listserve archive.

Remember, too, that we have a page devoted to job postings. There is no charge for this service and the listings are updated at least once a week. This summer we also added a page for individuals interested in seeking employment in co-ops. We will provide these postings on a confidential basis -- forwarding any inquiries directly to the individual. (We're closing in on the suggestion made at a past annual meeting for a "co-op personal ads" page!)

CGIN's membership is now made up of 116 retail co-ops and 11 other groups (associate members). If your co-op hasn't yet joined CGIN, you can find details at For those of you who are already members, let me know if you'd like to send in a job posting, items for sharing on the site, deli recipes, an exhibit for our photo gallery, or if you'd like to find out how you can get a new CGIN mousepad.

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