Letter: The Co-op’s Vital Role
To the Editor:
It was with great interest that I read your front-page article on Aug. 21 about local farmers meeting at Dartmouth with state and federal officials (“Farmers Sound Off on Rules”). This kind of dialogue is critical to sustaining our valuable local food supply and the success of our farmers.
What did distress me, however, is the lack of recognition for the role of the Hanover Consumer Co-operative Society in its support of local farmers and its important role in this meeting. Co-op General Manager Terry Appleby was on hand to support the farmers and the government contingent — including U.S. Food and Drug Administration Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine Michael Taylor, New Hampshire Commissioner of Agriculture Lorraine Merrill, 14 members of the FDA, two staffers from the offices of U.S. Rep. Ann Kuster, D-N.H., and delegations from both states’ agriculture departments, including UNH and UVM Extension agents.
Merrill, the New Hampshire agriculture commissioner, wrote to Rosemary Fifield, education director for the Co-op, “I was sitting next to FDA Deputy Commissioner Mike Taylor when you mentioned that 160 of (the Co-op’s) staff (of a total of 420 employees) have completed the ServeSafe training and certification. ... You blew his socks off. He was stunned — and just hugely impressed. He said it must surely be the highest percentage of ServeSafe staff of any organization/business in the country. The seriousness with which they took the comments from the Co-op management team just went up several notches — it was visible.”
ServeSafe is a nationally accredited food-safety certification program of the National Restaurant Association. The Co-op’s role in this conference, its support of our local farmers and its commitment to food safety, on behalf of all members and customers, are all fine examples of how this “grocery store” differs in the ways it sees its many roles. The Co-op not only supplies us with fine products, it supports the local economy and works constantly to keep our food safe and its employees well trained.
I thank Appleby, his management team and the staff of all Co-op stores, now in Vermont as well as New Hampshire.
President, Hanover Consumer Co-operative Society