Rutland Area Food Co-op Members vote to adopt Patronage Refund System

Contact: Zach Stevens, General Manager
(802) 773-0737

Rutland Area Food Co-op Members vote to adopt Patronage Refund System

RUTLAND, Vermont- June 7th, 2018 – On Wednesday night, between 130-150 Rutland Area Food Co-op members, staff and their families attended the 24th Annual Member Meeting & Celebration, held on the lawn abutting the Co-op. Three local vendors, whose products are available at the Co-op, joined the Meeting, sampling their locally made products; TreTap of Fairfax, VT; One:29 Living Foods of Salem, NY; and The Vermont Spätzle Company of Arlington, VT. Miss Guided Angels supplied the musical accompaniment, while Olivia’s Market, catered with fantastic meat, veggie, and gluten-free lasagnas, along with the Co-op Kitchen who prepared salads. Members brought along potluck desserts to round out the dinner.
Chris Littler, Treasurer of the Co-op Board; Hannah Abrams, Facilitator of the Co-op Board; and Zach Stevens, General Manager, spoke to the members and staff on the health of the business, plans for expansion, and the introduction of a Member Loan program to be rolled out in September 2018.
The Rutland Co-op has over 2100 members, adding an additional 351 during the 2017-2018 fiscal year. Sales for the 2017-2018 fiscal year were $2,149,242.22, down $5,674.83, but due to better management of product purchasing and intense budget watching, the Co-op is estimating profits of $50,000, $5,000 more than the 2016-2017 fiscal year. This continues a trend of increasing profits and lower operational costs for the Co-op.
Mr. Littler remarked, “Last year when I gave an estimate for our profits, I said we would be making a fiscally conservative estimate between $25,000 to $30,000 in profits. We ended up making $44,787.66. This year we have, from a very conservative estimate, close to $50,000 in profits.”
Ms. Abrams mentioned her thanks to Mark Foley, the Co-op’s landlord, for his consistent support of the Co-op and with his help in planning the expansion. She also remarked that the Co-op has hired a Cooperative consultant to help prepare a financial pro-forma in relation to the future, as well as hiring a project manager to help identify issues, possibilities, and cost analysis as part of the renovation. Ms. Abrams also announced that the board would be starting a Member Loan program to raise funds needed for the expansion/renovation of the store, setting a goal of raising $400,000.
Mr. Stevens thanked the staff members of the Co-op, stating, “The people that work here have an ability to adjust on they fly, stay positive, and are extremely resourceful, this is a driving factor in our successes.”
Co-op member and Mayor of Rutland, VT, David Allaire, was also in attendance, agreeing with a staff member that the Rutland Co-op is an important part of the Rutland community, employing 18-21 full time and part time staff.
Near the close of the meeting, Larry Gold, a founding Co-op member and the gracious M.C. for the event asked everyone to make sure they voted on the Patronage Refund System. This system, which allows the Co-op Board to allocate profits first to improvements and financial needs of the Co-op, and then pass dividends onto the members. This would replace the 2% up front member discount at the register. When the ballots were counted, the resolution passed, with a near unanimous 72-1 vote in favor of adopting the Patronage Refund System, which will be implemented at the start of the next fiscal year, April 1st, 2019.
Mr. Stevens wrapped his speech pointing out, “We are enthusiastic not only for our future but the future of all Downtown Rutland.”

New things in Tea and Bulk for March!

We have some new additions in the Tea and Bulk departments this month!


Memory Tea

Contains powerful memory enhancing herbs and anti-oxidants.  Fruity, clean tat.  Ginkgo leaf, hibiscus flower, eleuthero root, gotu kola herb, parsley flakes, alfalfa leaf, bilberry leaf, and ginger root.

Chrysanthemum tea

Organic white chrysanthemum flowers.  Mildly sweet, refreshing taste.  It is cooling so very nice in the summer.  Steep 3-5 flowers at 90°-95°C (194°-203°F) in 250ml of water for 2-4 minutes.



Filipendula ulmaria (aka meadowsweet) is high in salicylic acid which relieves pain, especially of the stagnant type (in a fixed location, possible pounding sensation, heat Symptoms, etc.).  It is also anti-inflammatory.  Some people find it helpful for stomach aches, acid reflux, headaches, and arthritis pain.


  • Children under 16 years old who have flu or chickenpox symptoms (due to the possibility of a rare, but serious condition names Reye’s syndrome)
  • People with asthma (may stimulate bronchial spasms)
  • People allergic to aspirin


As always, we give you this information as a starting point, but we encourage you to talk with your medical professional before using any herbal remedies to treat any symptoms and/or conditions.  They are best able to consult with you about the benefits and possible side effects/harmful interactions that can occur and are best able to guide you with effective treatments.

CBD at the Co-op

DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical professional, nor do I practice law.  The effects and benefits of CBD infused foods, oils, and other products are still being researched in the scientific community  and so the information in this post may not be relevant at a future date.  Before using CBD products, you should talk to your medical professional, especially if you have further concerns or more in-depth questions.  Also know that there may be trace amounts of THC present in the products that we sell, which are all tested to be in line with Federal Guidelines for legal CBD sales.  

So, to start, what is CBD?  

CBD (short for cannabidiol) refers to the non-psycho active chemicals contained in the cannabis plant.  THC, the other major group of chemicals in cannabis, is the more famous one here and the most active ingredient in marijuana.  So let’s talk about THC first.

Marijuana and Hemp are two members of the cannabis family, with marijuana being cultivated over time for its mind-altering properties (increasing the amount of THC present in the plant), while hemp has, for the most part, stayed the same.  THC is responsible for affecting your movement and coordination, as well as thought processes, appetite and emotions.

Whereas, CBD positively affects pain relief, has anti-inflammatory properties and is not psychoactive.  There is research where CBD is being evaluated in its effectiveness in treating epilepsy, cancer, anxiety and Type 1 Diabetes.

According to the WHO (World Health Organization) CBD is not harmful, has health benefits, and does not have abuse potential.  CBD naturally occurs in our bodies while also found in broccoli and kale and other vegetables.  The Huffington Post wrote that “the biggest selling point for the surging popularity of CBD is that it is non-euphoric.”  This means that CBD-infused products do not have the “high” that comes with marijuana, because of its near non-existent amount of THC.  Now this comes of course with the caveat that everyone’s bodies are different, and so people can react differently.  If you have any concerns about how CBD-infused products will affect you, please reach out your medical professional.

Our CBD products come in the form of honey, roll on pain relief sticks, essential oil, candy, lip balm, dietary supplements, edible salves, massage oils, bath salts, and even deodorant!!

Is it legal?

YES!  At the time of this writing, for CBD to be legal in the eyes of the Federal Government, it must contain levels of THC at or lower than .3%.  All the products we sell meet or are lower than this .3% threshold and are tested by independent third-party companies to meet this standard.

What CBD products do you sell? 

We sell products from these companies:

Elmore Mountain Therapeutics

Green Mountain CBD

Green Mountain Hemp Company

Luce Farm Vermont 

Nutty Steph’s


Medical News Today


Luce Farm Vermont 

Elmore Mountain Therapeutics

Huffington Post

Introducing the Patronage Refund System

Dear Co-op Members,

Since 1995 the Rutland Area Food Co-op has served as the leading food cooperative of the greater Rutland region. Over the years, we’ve supported our local farmers and food producers, our community organizations and given back to our beloved member-owners.

However, along the way we haven’t always prioritized reinvestment back into our co-op. Often, this makes it difficult for us to carry out basic store needs such as purchasing new equipment, making store repairs, and preparing for the future.

In order for us to remain stable and continue to grow, we’ve recognized the need to do things differently. We need a smart approach for reinvesting our profits while still rewarding faithful members for their support.

That’s why most food co-ops today – nearly all in Vermont, actually – have adopted what’s called the patronage refund system. With this approach, a return of excess profits are distributed back to members each year. But first, the co-op reinvests a portion of the profits back into the business. That way, we’re helping to ensure that the co-op is financially sound and can carry out what needs to be done to meet member needs, whether it be installing a new floor, purchasing a properly working freezer, or expanding the business to offer a greater selection of products.

After the co-op’s needs are accounted for, the remaining profits are distributed back to you, our members, in the form of a check. Each year, the board sets what percentage of profits are to be returned to members. This money is then divvied up among the members based on their patronage at the co-op throughout the year. In other words, the more members shops at the co-op, the more they will get back.

Of course, the co-op must first have a profitable year in order for this to happen. If we’re not doing well, we simply cannot afford to give a discount. Some years, when our needs are high, we might have to reinvest all of the profits back into the business. Though in other years, when our needs are less, more profits can go back to members.

Unfortunately, like most co-ops when they first started, we prioritized giving back over profitability. And we’ve done this through a discount on every member purchase since our very first days. Although this is just a two percent discount, over the course of a year, this adds up to thousands of dollars. Since 1995, this has no doubt added up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. With the switch to the patronage system, this discount would go away and instead, refund checks would be issued in its place. We would continue to offer our member only sales.

The patronage refund system is a not a new concept. Food co-ops that have implemented this structure find themselves in good financial standing and are able to more easily grow to meet member needs and demands. The patronage system puts the needs of all co-op members first and helps safeguard the continued success of the business. As co-op members, we all benefit from this approach.

Over the course of the next few months keep an eye out as we provide additional information about the patronage refund system. Please let us know your questions and allow us to explain why we believe this change is in the best interest of the Rutland Area Food Co-op. In June, we will hold a vote on the matter at our annual meeting and we hope you will consider voting in support.

Interested in learning more? Stop by the Co-op on Wednesday, February 7th, between 3 and 5, to chat with board members Matt Poli and Steve Peters. More opportunities to talk with board members will come in the next few months. Keep an eye out in the newsletter for dates and times.

You can also send us your questions via email at


The Rutland Area Food Coop’s Board of Directors

Vote yes for patronage!