Quabbin Harvest co-op starts fundraising campaign

The Recorder, July 9, 2018, by Carson McGrath

In hopes of creating a more stable financial footing, the local Quabbin Harvest food co-op has launched an 18-month fundraising campaign.

Cathy Stanton, chairwoman of the co-op’s board of directors, said there are many deep challenges to running a small-scale retail food business, one being the competition between the co-op and large supermarkets in the area.

“We can’t stock as much – we are just smaller,” she said. “What we are trying to do is just really different from what people are used to, and how they are used to getting their food.”

Community members can donate to the co-op as part of its “Branch out with Quabbin Harvest” campaign, which will go toward covering its operating deficit. Through a new-member drive, Quabbin Harvest also encourages supporters to donate, so it can pay the cost of memberships for low-income or SNAP eligible shoppers. Residents can also purchase memberships for friends or family, said Stanton. Members receive various benefits, she said, including 10 percent off during member appreciation days, a discount with Orange Oil and 10 percent off pre-ordered items.

Another big component of the campaign is to continue to increase sales throughout the end of the campaign in September 2019, said Stanton.

She said whatever is raised will “fill in the gaps” when sales aren’t as high as Quabbin Harvest would like. Ultimately, she said, the co-op needs to come out of the fundraiser with a level of sales needed to remain stable.

In the coming months, Quabbin Harvest plans to host a fundraising auction with music and food to showcase local talent.

“The community around the co-op is really an energetic, talented and vibrant community … we are hoping the auction could be a way to put that on display,” said Stanton.

So far, Stanton said the co-op has received $15,000 in donations, with $8,000 coming from two generous supporters. Quabbin Harvest’s goal is to raise about $30,000 through the campaign.

“Money spent at the co-op stays in the area, rather than going to distant shareholders,” said Standton. “We like to point out that 68 cents of every dollar spent at the co-op stays in the local economy in the form of either goods purchased from local suppliers or wages paid to our staff. If we can stay viable over the long haul, as we hope to do, we’ll account for quite a lot of money that stays local, which is an important part of our mission.”