A Community Outreach Update

Hello Durham Co-op Community,

We are happy to finally be entering a beautiful spring and returning to a semi-regular pace at our Co-op.

Since the return of many shoppers, we hope due to the increasing access to the much-needed vaccine, we are happy to also be seeing a rise in our plans with community partners. As a Co-op we work with various organizations to keep our commitment to community and to our values.

Two values, within our greater mission as a Co-op, are to increase access to food and model best environmental and sustainable practices. Many of our values-based efforts may not be visible to an undiscerning eye, but there is much around the Co-op that upholds our values to environmentalism, and more behind the scenes. Something owners may not see when shopping at the store, are the many partnerships with local businesses who are also devoted to better stewardship of our natural world. Local businesses like the Fillaree, “Green-to-Go”, and 1800 Compost are recognized by our community. Also, many owners and non-owners alike benefit from our “Sustain-o-Ware” section, and frequent use of our reusable self-service water station.

Besides the work on the shelves, we are currently working with the local 919 chapter of Food Not Bombs; a vegan focused volunteer-based food waste allocation and repurposing group. Food Not Bombs collects much of our ugly produce and “just in time” foods, to be kept from filling up our compost bins and creates vegan meals to provide to community members, for free.

Other day-old foods like fresh prepared meals, bread, and produce are also donated to The Community Empowerment Fund. CEF, a local finance literacy group, has utilized our donations to provide pantry items for both members and volunteers. They have personally told us they are happy to have full refrigerators for members to supplement their own groceries with. Unfortunately, the rescuing of ugly produce or “just in time” foods from the compost has been an increasing critical focus of food and restaurant businesses.

At the beginning of the pandemic, we took a step back due to lower orders and high demands for groceries, and we are now getting a better hold on utilizing our food waste. No small part of that is thanks to groups like with Food Not Bombs as well as new initiatives like the Durham Free Lunch group, started by Geer St. Garden and other local Durham businesses. They have been providing food to anyone experiencing pandemic-induced food insecurity. Initially the program started in response to children in need of food access with schools not meeting in-person and now is a successful ongoing community-lead initiative. Since the New Year, we have been donating to Durham Free lunch, most notably 8-10 flats of canned veggies and flour in March. The donated items came from sales interrupted by Covid, but through our excess we have been able to support community partners doing more direct work than we can.

Lastly, we will be sponsoring the Exchange Family Center Pinwheels Dayz: Family Fun Weekends in April. Exchange Family Center has been keeping children safe and families together for 25 years. Specifically, we will be providing gift cards to families that sign up for the virtual cooking class on the 17th. We want to make sure we are helping all families explore healthy, fun, and affordable food options. We are happy to be working with them as they provide whole family fun activities every Saturday in April.

Coming up on Earth Day 2021 on the 22nd, and our 6th anniversary as the Durham Co-op Market, we want to recognize the great work happening in our Durham community and inform our owners and Co-op community of the work we want to continue doing in the future.

We are excited to be working with so many amazing local groups. Please let us know what focuses or initiatives you’d like to see at the Co-op by reaching out to Raafe (raafe@durham.coop). And remember, Everyone Welcome!

Raafe Purnsley
Community Outreach Coordinator
Durham Co-op Market