City Market, a member-owned cooperative, declared a Patronage Dividend for fiscal year 2011 of $1,017,754, based on net income from sales to its members. The City Market Board of Directors then voted to return 60% of this dividend (or $610,652) to Members in the form of a Patronage Refund. On November 10, the Co-op mailed over 6,200 checks to its members, with an average check of $98.
As in prior years, Members had options to cash or donate their Patronage Refunds. Through donations, shared resources and Member Worker volunteers, City Market partners with local non-profits to enhance our local food system and meet the needs of our community’s most food insecure families. To these ends, City Market facilitated donations of members’ Patronage Refund checks this year to Hunger Free Vermont and the Intervale Farmers’ Equipment Company. Members needed to cash or donate their Patronage Refund checks by February 10, 2012, and they donated their Patronage by the thousands.
City Market recently had the pleasure of delivering a check for over $3,100 to Hunger Free Vermont, an education and advocacy organization with the mission to end the injustice of hunger and malnutrition for all Vermonters. “City Market has been a valuable partner for Hunger Free Vermont and we’re appreciative of their support for our statewide work on hunger issues,” says Marissa Parisi, Hunger Free Vermont’s Executive Director. “Due to this long recession, Vermonters need food and nutrition support now more than ever, and we are grateful to City Market and their members for helping us ensure all of our citizens have access to food on a regular basis.”
In addition, on March 17, City Market’s Board Members presented Hilary Martin, President of The Intervale Farmers’ Equipment Company (IFEC) with a check for almost $26,000 in Member donations. IFEC began in 2007 as a collaborative effort between the Intervale Center and seven independent Intervale Farms to transition ownership of equipment and infrastructure to a cooperative group consisting of the member farms. For the last four seasons, IFEC has met its goal of providing members with a low cost way to own and maintain farm infrastructure and equipment. In August 2011, IFEC signed a lease agreement with the Intervale Center to use the office, shop, and a small portion of the land vacated by Intervale Compost Products (now called Green Mountain Compost). Six days later, each IFEC farmer watched the season come to an abrupt end with flooding caused by Tropical Storm Irene. “The incredible force of City Market members and their Patronage donations swept into the world of IFEC right when the group was nervously navigating between individual farmers’ financial strains and the needs of the collective. The generous Patronage Refund donation City Market members pledged to IFEC will keep the group alive and thriving as we enter a fresh new season,” says Becky Maden, treasurer of IFEC and a farmer at the Intervale Community Farm.
Clem Nilan, City Market’s General Manager, is proud of the Co-op’s ability to offer a Patronage Refund to members and of members’ interest in recirculating their Refunds back into the local economy. “While more and more of the wealth of our country is being concentrated in the hands of fewer, our Cooperative model is designed to return our profits directly back to our members. Our community clearly embraces the cooperative financial model and membership has soared to record levels, growing by over 19% in the last year.”