Food Justice Committee: Part 4 of 4 — FJC Eyes a Bigger Piece of the Discount Pie for Food for All Participants

by 
Susan Bloch, for the Shuttle
Attendees at the FJC Ice Cream Social in June sign on to help.

Perhaps you’ve seen articles from the Food Justice Committee in the past three editions of the Shuttle. We’ve been engaged in ongoing conversations about the importance of improving access to stores since 2013. Those conversations led to the creation of the Food for All program in January 2015.

Food for All participants benefit from reduced membership fees of $5 per year and shopping discounts of 10%. Working members in FFA may add this 10% to their 5% working member discount. Qualified members receive SNAP, EBT, WIC, TANF, Medicaid, General Assistance, or Military Disability benefits. To apply, go to http://www.weaversway.coop/articles/food-for-all, or call 215-843-2350, ext. 119 to schedule a confidential application meeting.

In 2018, over 200 households were enrolled in FFA, and 150-160 of these shopped every month. Several FFA members were interviewed recently, and they overwhelmingly appreciate the discount, which makes it possible for them to buy more at the Co-op. At the same time, we learned that many shoppers (including many people who would qualify) are not aware of FFA’s existence.

We would like to increase the FFA member discount from 10% to 20%. Discussions with Co-op management are in the works, but we’ve come up with two ideas for funding the increase.

1. Top It Off Program (TIP)

The Co-op already sponsors Giving Twosdays, where shoppers may donate to Food Moxie and other non-profits at checkout once a month. With the Top It Off initiative, shoppers can choose to round up their order total to the next dollar. The funds collected would go into a pot to pay for an increased FFA member discount. Members we have spoken with are strongly supportive of this initiative.

2. Opt Out Program

Working members and senior members could choose to donate their discounts to a fund that would help to increase the discount for FFA participants. Although there is quite a bit of support for this initiative, we’ve discovered that some members are attached to their discounts. We have not yet surveyed to explore this question more formally.

We encourage members to reflect on how and why the discounts are important to them. For many, the discounts represent welcome savings. For others, it’s a reward for being a working member, and a reflection of ownership in the Co-op.

Taking the Community’s Pulse

In January, FJC held a member forum to open the conversation about how Co-op members view FFA and our proposed changes. About 80 people attended, conversation was spirited, and many expressed a high level of concern about affordable access to healthy food, as well as interest in being part of the change. As a result of this forum, several attendees joined FJC.

In June, we sponsored an ice cream social in the backyard behind the Chestnut Hill store. Turnout was great, and volunteers dished out Chilly Philly ice cream, which was donated by the Poses family, local owners and longtime Co-op members. We also offered a vegan frozen dessert option donated by the Co-op. Our intent was to talk with shoppers one on one to gauge their willingness to participate in our proposed enhancements to the FFA program. Shoppers we spoke with were supportive of our initiatives.

The Food Justice Committee and Food For All Task Force are continuing their work to bring the Top It Off and Opt Out initiatives forward. If you would like to attend a meeting, share your thoughts, or get more information, contact us at foodjustice@weaversway.coop.