A Co-op Glossary

May 12, 2020 | Co-ops, Uncategorized

Here are some terms and phrases used at the Belfast Co-op that some may not find familiar. Some are unique to our Co-op, others are used throughout the cooperative world, while others are used throughout the natural foods and grocery industry.


Board of Directors
A group of representative owners elected directly by the whole ownership. The Board has a legal responsibility to ensure the Co-op’s well-being and to hold the General manager accountable. Board members work to keep the Co-op accountable to cooperative principles, adhere to the Bylaws and make sure that the Co-op remains a sustainable business.

Bylaws
The governing rules of a cooperative that enshrines in law its nature, identity, and objects as a cooperative operating in accordance with the cooperative principles that protects the democratic rights of members to control their cooperative enterprise.

Common Cents
Common Cents is a donation program, which allows Belfast Co-op shoppers to round up the total of their purchases to the nearest dollar. This donation provides support to a highlighted community organization whose work contributes to local resilience.

Co-op Basics
Co-op Basics is a program which supports affordable pricing on staple pantry items.

Co-op Deals
A sale item for anyone who shops at the Co-op which typically represent a 10-15% discount off of our regular pricing. Deals change approximately every 2 – 3 weeks.

Co+op Explorers
Co+op Explorers is a free fruit program for NCG co-ops. The benefits of a free fruit program include promoting healthy eating for kids and a more engaging and fun shopping experience for both parents and children.

Cooperative
A cooperative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.†

Cooperative Principles
The cooperative principles are guidelines by which cooperatives put their values into practice.

Cooperative Values
The values cooperatives are based on: self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, cooperative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others.

Ends
The policy that states why the Co-op exists.

Equity share
The amount an owner contributes to the cooperative as a condition of ownership, the contribution of which grants a member voting rights under the provisions of a cooperative’s bylaws (defined by the International Cooperative Alliance).

Fair Trade
A cooperative effort between farmers and retailers to provide a living wage for their production of goods.

Howard Bowers Fund
The Bowers Fund was established in 1994 with an endowment from the Hyde Park Cooperative Society to recognize the commitment and achievements of its general manager, Howard Bowers. The purpose of the Bowers Fund is to strengthen the food co-op community and it does this by giving grants for the training and education of food co-op staff, managers, and board members.

Local
We define a local product as any item grown, made, or produced in the state of Maine.

Love Local Day
Generally, the last Friday of the month, all local products in the store are 10% off all day for everyone.

MOFGA
The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) certifies organic food and products throughout the State of Maine. It is a voluntary organization whose office is located in Unity, Maine. As of 2017, MOFGA certifies 536 producers and growers. MOFGA also offers workshops and trainings related to organic agriculture, and organizes the annual Common Ground Country Fair.

NCG
National Co+op Grocers (NCG) is a business services cooperative for retail food co-ops located throughout the country, representing 146 food co-ops operating over 200 stores in 37 states.

Organic
Organic food is raised and handled in compliance with the National Organic Standards, administered by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s National Organic Program. In general, this means that crops are grown on land that has not had prohibited materials applied to it for at least 36 months prior to harvest. Organic livestock is raised in an organic system from at least the last third of gestation (day-old for poultry), using 100% organic feed. Certification happens by a number of different national and international organizations, of which MOFGA is one.

Owner, Member, or Member-Owner
A person who has made a monetary investment and accepted the rights and responsibilities of membership in a cooperative. We use the term owner to help emphasize the difference- an owner is more than a member in a club or group, an owner literally owns a part of the organization in the form of equity.

Owner Forum
A meeting for our owners hosted by the board of directors’ Ownership Committee, usually held quarterly. The goal of which is to provide our owners with a better understanding of our co-op.

Owner + Deals
A sale item for owners only which typically represents a 15-25% discount. Local offerings will only ever have Owner+ pricing. Sales change approximately every 2 – 3 weeks.

Patronage Dividend
A patronage dividend is the distribution that a cooperative pays to its owners. Patronage dividends are based on a proportion of profit made by the business and distributed according to how much each owner has used the co-op’s services. Tax rules view these profits essentially as an overcharge, which can be returned to patrons and deducted from the co-op’s taxable income.

PLU
“Price Look Up” code- a system of numbers which uniquely identifies a product. Especially useful for indentifying bulk items.

Policy Governance
Policy Governance is a model of governance that the Co-op’s Board of Directors adopted in 2014. Policy Governance was specifically designed to ensure that an organization (in our case, a cooperative) produces value for its owners, consistent with owner interest while providing accountability to its owners. The board of directors is the owners’ agent, entrusted with seeing that the organization has produced specified value within ethical and prudent guidelines. Policy Governance provides a clear differentiation between governance and management responsibilities in organizations.

Policy Register
The Belfast Co-op policy register is a compilation of the official policies that guide the Board of Directors and the General Manager.

Rootstock
The Belfast Co-op’s bi-monthly newletter.

Sustainable
A term used in our produce and meat and cheese departments to identify produce which is grown in a way that is ecologically sound and promotes the health of the soil, people, and community. Production methods typically follow organic practices.

Tare weight
The weight of an empty container. Important information needed when buying in bulk.


Do you have more questions that you don’t see answered here? Reach out to info@belfast.coop

Accessibility Toolbar