Co-op Purposes Report 2019

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“It’s difficult to pull our gaze from the present to reflect on what now seems like a different time. We chose to move forward with publishing the 2019 Co-op Purposes Report and its planned content because it is an important record of how our co-op lived its values and made progress toward its goals.”

– Cate Hardy, CEO

Read letters from our board and ceo

Our Path Forward

With the help of our members, staff, vendors and community, we made substantial progress on our sustainability goals in 2019.

View our progress

AN APPLE A DAY FOR FOOD SYSTEM EDUCATION

PCC Community Markets is a co-op — collaboration is the very basis of our business. Between merchandisers and farmers, stores and nonprofits, staff and customers, collaboration is essential to our triple bottom line. Our Farm to School Program is one way we have teamed up with local producers, longtime partners and grassroots organizations since 2013 to meet these goals.

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Every fall, PCC Community Markets welcomes apples of all shapes, colors and stories — each one picked by hand — from Washington and Oregon farms east of the Cascades. This region’s unique, sandy soils and historic orchards yield an abundant harvest that supplies Northwest pies, sauces, snacks and lunch bags through the winter.

Among the apples piled high in PCC’s produce department, some deliver more than an irresistible crunch — 100 percent of proceeds from the sale of Farm to School bagged apples benefit local food system education.

In 2012, Organically Grown Company (OGC) — PCC’s partner in organic produce since 1998 — extended a challenge: Sell bags of Fuji apples at a price that was affordable and would allow PCC to donate 70 percent of proceeds toward farm-to-school education programs of their choice.

“My main goal [for the program] was exposing kids to growing, harvesting and eating food right from the soil,” said Tom Lively, cofounder of OGC and the brains behind the Farm to School apple program. “Exposure to the process of growing food totally changes the game.”

PCC’s produce team worked with PCC’s social and environmental responsibility team to curate the program, and decided to sweeten the deal by donating 100 percent. These funds are awarded to local organizations that connect young people to their food systems, even teaching them to grow or cook their own food.

“So when someone picks up that bag of apples,” said Lamai Cox, PCC Community Relations Manager, “they’re essentially donating to farm-to-school education while supporting the organic supply chain.”

Because this fruit is Washington’s own bread and apple butter, it was important to everyone at PCC that they work with local farmers. Since 2000, the co-op has sourced cherries, pears and apples from River Valley Organics in Tonasket, Washington. When PCC’s produce team called owners George and Apple Otte, they generously jumped on board with the program. With the Ottes’ help, PCC expanded Farm to School offerings to include not only Fuji apples, but earlier-season Galas and later-season Cameos as well. This allows the co-op to raise money for a larger portion of the year.

In 2019, PCC’s Farm to School Apple Program raised $48,000, bringing total contributions since the program began in 2013 to $319,597.

Last year’s funds were distributed between three local organizations: Washington Green Schools, Oxbow Farm & Conservation Center, and Green Plate Special. Food system education is complex, place-based work that requires great care and commitment. While they share common goals, each of these organizations takes its own approach to building connections between young people and their food.

Washington Green Schools

Farm to School recipients establish strong relationships with local schools, introducing food system education that complements school curriculum. This reaches students who might not otherwise have the opportunity to learn about their food — let alone grow it for themselves.

Washington Green Schools (WGS) partners with schools across the state, empowering them to achieve eco-friendly goals through Green School Certification, classroom resources and hands-on support. Farm to School funds are used to grow the School Grounds and Gardens facet of certification, specifically to build and maintain school gardens.

“One of the gardens we built was accessible for all students,” said Meredith Lohr, WGS Executive Director.

“Seeing the kids come out and get to plant, even just dig in the dirt, in a wheelchair-accessible garden bed is really rewarding. That’s something that PCC dollars are helping us do.”

To help keep the gardens productive year after year, WGS supports teachers and staff with training and curriculum based on the school’s needs.

“Students led us on a tour of one of our gardens a few months ago, and one kid just reached down and grabbed a handful of kale,” said Laura Collins, WGS Director of Advancement. “It’s raw kale that he’s just munching on. They don’t need to ask if it’s alright. They planted it. They grew it. It’s theirs.”

That ownership combined with curated lessons is what makes this WGS program work. One particularly engaging curriculum is a program called Zombie Guacamole.

“We were seeing a lot of schools wanting gardens,” said Meredith. “At the same time, the city was asking schools to recycle food waste, and requiring students to learn about ecosystems and how energy cycles through ecosystems. We saw an opportunity to link these up.”

During Zombie Guacamole, students make their own compost in jars, adding ingredients to discover what breaks down fastest. Youth learn why it’s important that food waste is composted rather than sent to the landfill where a tub of guacamole might remain bright green for years from failure to decompose — a phenomenon that inspired the name of the program.

One school garden in the Fremont neighborhood is maintained through the summer months by school families.

“Families are harvesting fruits and vegetables from the garden to use throughout the summer,” said Laura. “The garden continues to flourish as new students and families join the community.”

Installing school gardens is resource-intensive, and WGS works hard to keep up with demand as the benefits are realized by more and more schools.

“It’s really wonderful that PCC is calling attention to this growing need and making it a priority. It’s having a huge impact,” said Laura.

Oxbow Farm & Conservation Center

Farm to School recipients offer many skills and resources for young people as they think about their own futures, and the future of our shared home.

Oxbow Farm & Conservation Center in Carnation, Washington provides students with experience playing, working and experimenting on an organic farm — a farm whose vegetables are often sold in PCC stores. Oxbow has resources and programs to support students from pre-K through high school.

“Getting kids in the dirt, digging with their hands, putting things in their mouths that might be a little dirty — that’s the ultimate way to connect,” said Lisa Jagunzy, Oxbow’s Executive Director. “You might not think they’re retaining anything, but that first spark is critical. As they get older, the food system becomes a more accessible topic.”

Oxbow introduces middle schoolers to subjects like food miles and food access and their implications for community health. According to Lisa, they’re identifying “ways that [students] can connect what’s on their pizza to the whole system that made that happen.”

Even for students who aren’t especially interested in farming, Oxbow demonstrates that various STEM careers are essential to the success of local, sustainable agriculture. Students learn to connect the health of the soil to the health of the farm to the health of the greater Snoqualmie Valley ecosystem.

“We tie our work to climate resilience,” said Lisa. “At the end of the day, we’re doing this all so that we can be lighter on the land and inspire other people to make choices that will contribute to that.”

Green Plate Special

When people learn to grow their own food, they gain respect not only for farmers and producers, but for themselves as providers and members of their community. Farm to School recipients work to inform, enable and empower young people in this way.

Green Plate Special (GPS) empowers youth in South Seattle to build connections to their food and to their community. On their urban farm and in their kitchen classroom, young people learn to grow, harvest and cook together.

“A lot of our programs rely on the food that we grow in this garden,” said Annie Reading, GPS Garden Coordinator. “We grow hundreds of pounds of produce every year, and that’s really special because our youth get to actually be part of growing the things that they’re then cooking in the kitchen.”

“We had a community gathering that was free and open to the public,” said Maia Bernstein, GPS Education Director. “We were planting garlic with a bunch of adults and one of our youth took it upon herself to teach all of them how to plant garlic. She took charge and knew exactly what she was doing.”

The self-respect and self-confidence gained from learning to grow food is fed in the GPS kitchen classroom. Here, youth learn valuable cooking skills, share dishes from their backgrounds and practice working together as a team. Students are enabled to sustain food sovereignty for themselves and their families.

“Being able to grow food has been a way that [Seattle’s] immigrant communities stay connected to their cultures,” said Annie.

“We grow specific plants to represent the communities of people who surround us,” said Maia. “And cook their recipes, too. Last year, a Senegalese young person was literally FaceTiming with her mom while stirring a pot at the stove so her mom could talk her through the recipe. It was her first time making it herself!”

GPS leverages Farm to School funds to help youth attend pay-as-you-can summer camps. This payment model is unique and significant. Even where scholarships are available for extracurricular programs, families who might benefit — like those experiencing homelessness and food insecurity — are discouraged by the effort it takes to apply.

“That will stop many people — the exhaustion of having to apply for assistance in every part of their lives,” said Laura Dewell, GPS founder and Executive Director.

“What our pay-as-you-can camps also do is create this incredible diversity of students,” said Maia.

When each student, no matter their background, receives the same care and support from an attentive staff — who benefit immensely from a very low staff-to-student ratio — young people learn not only to respect themselves but to respect and value each other.

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Through the Farm to School program, PCC, their partners and their shoppers come together — reflecting the complexity of a thriving ecosystem — to connect young people to healthier, safer and more equitable food systems.

Keep an eye out for Farm to School bagged apples at your neighborhood market each fall!

Our commitment lies with our community

Because the Pacific Northwest has given us so much, we give back in everything we do. In 2019, PCC gave more than 50 percent of our after-tax earnings to our members and the communities we serve, including schools and nonprofits around the Puget Sound area, such as PCC Farmland Trust, FareStart, Ventures and Long Live the Kings.

PCC Farmland Trust

PCC Farmland Trust

Founded by PCC in 1999, but now its own separate nonprofit organization, PCC Farmland Trust’s mission is to secure, preserve and steward threatened farmland in Washington state. We donated nearly $292,000 to the PCC Farmland Trust in 2019, more than $85,000 of which came from our shoppers and vendor partners.

Fare Start logo

FareStart

PCC provided nearly $11,000 in financial and product support to FareStart, an organization that provides real solutions to poverty, homelessness and hunger. We supported culinary classes for students in FareStart’s Youth Culinary and Customer Service Training Program.

Ventures logo

Ventures

PCC gave $20,000 to Ventures, a Seattle-based organization that helps entrepreneurs with limited resources grow their businesses. Our support funded mentoring services, including a “Scaling Up for Success” class that provided Ventures clients with information about PCC’s vendor requirements, as well as face-to-face time with our merchandisers. During the holiday season, we sold products from two Ventures clients in our stores: Capuli Club and Ooliva Body Care.

Long Live The Kings Logo

Long Live the Kings

PCC donated $10,000 to Long Live the Kings, an organization focused on rebuilding salmon and steelhead populations in the Puget Sound. Through partnerships with two of our vendors, Chinook Wine and Pike Place Brewing, we raised an additional $8,429.

Community Grant Program

In 2019, the PCC Community Grant program awarded $4,000 each to eight local nonprofits with missions focused on social action and environmental stewardship.

NW Honey Bee Habitat Restoration
Supports pollinator populations by educating the public about the value of honey bees, assisting in colony relocation and planting pollinator-friendly native plants in local neighborhoods.

Boys & Girls Club Joel E. Smilow Clubhouse at Rainier Vista — Food is Fun Program
Utilizes grocery rescue donations in after-school cooking and nutrition classes to build students’ confidence and knowledge base to prepare healthy snacks and meals.

Wild Fish Conservancy
Recovers and conserves the Northwest’s wild fish ecosystems, educating about and advocating for habitat restoration, harvest management and responsible hatcheries.

Bike Works
Promotes bicycling as a form of transportation that is good for public and environmental health, focusing on youth empowerment and through a lens of equity and access.

Delridge Neighborhood Development Association — Delridge Wetlands Park
Integrates art, nature and neighborhood to build and sustain the Delridge community. Develops curriculum for students around wetlands education at Delridge Wetlands Park.

Still Waters for Families in Transition
Provides balanced, ready-to-eat meals to students experiencing homelessness when schools are closed and subsidized school meals aren’t available to them.

Alaska Wild Salmon Fund
Benefits grassroots organizations in Alaska that work hands-on to secure clean water and healthy habitat that wild salmon populations depend on.

Pike Place Market Food Bank
Serves people facing food insecurity who live in downtown Seattle — about 1,000 people every week — whether homed or experiencing homelessness.

Neighborhood Giving

Each one of our stores connects with the neighborhood in which it’s located at a grassroots level. This map is a reflection of the many community organizations and programs we supported in 2019.

Neighborhood giving map

Your Purchases Count

honey crisp apple

FARM TO SCHOOL Program

In collaboration with Organically Grown Company, PCC donated $48,000 in proceeds from the sale of organic apples in 2019 through our Farm to School bagged apples. These funds were donated to Oxbow Farm & Conservation Center, Green Plate Special and Washington Green Schools.

Orca Whales

CENTER FOR WHALE RESEARCH

In 2019, PCC partnered with Cards by Lodie to sell greeting cards to support the Center for Whale Research’s work monitoring and advocating for our Southern Resident Killer Whales. We donated $5 for every card sold, which amounted to $9,213 in donations in 2019.

salmon

Long Live the Kings

PCC partners with Chinook Winery and Pike Place Brewery to offer specially labeled bottles of wine and beer, the sales of which benefit Chinook salmon habitat. For every specially marked item sold, a portion of sales goes to Long Live the Kings. In 2019, we donated a total of $8,429.

ADVOCACY

We believe in using our words and actions to make the change we want to see on our shelves, in our region and around the world. In 2019, our advocacy took many forms, from continuing to educate our community through the Sound Consumer — PCC’s own bimonthly publication — to pushing forward legislation to rein in toxics used in consumer products.

During the state legislative session, we supported 15 bills addressing critical issues, including climate change, food access and orca recovery. Our report on the need to fix organic dairy rules was entered into the federal legislative record, and PCC members and representatives showed up in person to testify before the National Organic Standards Board, voicing their support for strong organic standards.

Learn more about our advocacy

2019 results