From the General Manager
The past few weeks have deepened my already profound appreciation for the co-operative structure and the stakeholders who make this wonderful organization.
I am amazed by the resiliency of our local food system. Two weeks ago, demand for groceries doubled overnight and crippled our national supply chain. In WNY, and beyond, grocery shelves were bare. But amid the empty shelves at the co-op were full complements of items from local producers and suppliers. BreadHive called on day two of the panic. “We have more capacity now with our café closed. Would you like to double your order?” Yes, please. Our produce department stayed stocked because of our partnership with James Desiderio Inc, our dairy case with Upstate Farms milk, and our meat case with Freebird chicken and Stand Fast beef. Most grocery chains create efficiency by having everything shipped through a single warehouse. But in a time of crisis, it was the co-op’s diverse and local network that helped to keep our community fed.
I am inspired by the work of our dedicated staff. A day after our staff were thrust to the front lines of exposure, one staff member told me, “I feel so blessed to be able to do this work right now. I feel like we’re providing people with a resource they need.” Co-op staff have always been a big part of the lifeblood of the business, and never more so than right now. Our staff have risen to every challenge over the past few weeks. The co-op is taking steps to support them during this challenging time, including a job-protected voluntary leave program and resources through our employee assistance program. It means a lot that you have recognized their work through daily words of appreciation.
I am humbled by the strength of our community. Buffalo is known as the city of good neighbors, and the co-op is a community of people who have come together around access to food. Our customers have been gracious and appreciative of all the new rules we have put in place. I’ve spoken with several customers who were shopping for friends or family who are immunocompromised or self-quarantined. We are stronger together, and a crisis like this makes that all the more evident.
I’d like to leave you with a message I received from the Democracy Collaborative: “By standing together, in our work, and our values, and our communities, we are not alone.”
I hope you and your loved ones are safe and well in these exceedingly trying times.