2012-12 LMC Board Minutes

La Montanita Food Cooperative

Board of Directors Meeting Minutes Draft

December 18, 2012 – 5:30 pm

Board Present: Martha Whitman, Marshall Kovitz, Roger Eldridge, Ariana Marchello, Jake Garrity, Lisa Banwarth-Kuhn, Betsy VanLeit, Susan McAllister


Also Present: Deborah Good, (Admin Assistant), Terry Bowling (GM), Michelle Franklin (CDC Manager), Maggie Seeley (UNM Sustainability Studies, Co-op member), Mark Rutherford and Barbara Gilbert (Co-op members).


Board Not Present: Kristy Decker


The meeting started at 5:40 p.m. at the Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Albuquerque.  Martha Whitman facilitated and Deborah Good took notes.


  1. General Welcome and Introductions


  1. Approve the Agenda

Issues Raised: Ariana moves and Roger seconds to approve the agenda.

Actions Taken:  The agenda is approved unanimously.

Actions Required:  None


  1. Member Comments

Issues Raised:

  1. Maggie Seeley gives the semester a positive review. She names and briefly describes the 14 NM co-ops for which her students did case studies, including La Montanita. The co-ops are large and small, varied in purpose (from REI to biodiesel to preschool to credit unions). Provides Martha with a copy of the report. In the spring, the classes will be open to community members.
  2. Mark Rutherford and Barbara Gilbert (member guests) raise concern that a number of products sold at La Montanita are produced/owned by companies that financed the defeat of Proposition 37 in California. Barbara passes around a list she compiled of these products. Asks that board review the list and get education to consumers re: the companies’ role in the proposition battle, or try to find other providers.
    • Some discussion. Mark suggests a newsletter article. Lisa mentions labels in stores with QR codes.
    • Martha explained that the board delegates decisions of this type to the general manager, so Barbara and Mark should contact Terry.

Actions Taken: None

Actions Required: None


  1. Consent Agenda
  1. Board Minutes November 2012
  2. Finance Committee Minutes – December 5
  3. Member Engagement Committee Minutes – November 26
  4. 2012 Final Election Report – Kristy

Issues Raised:

  1. Roger moves and Ariana seconds to approve the consent agenda.
  2. Martha points out that the consent agenda includes the seating of new board members.
  3. Deborah will make the following changes to the November Board Minutes:
  • Page 5 – Replace Roger’s comment in board study “Is coop membership so inconsequential that …” with “Is the act of joining the co-op so casual that…”
  • Correct spelling of Ariana’s last name
  • Replace “chili” with “chile”

Actions Taken: Passes unanimously

Actions Required: None


  1. Management Monitoring Reports – Asset Protection X5, Succession X7

Issues Raised:

  1. Betsy moves and Jake seconds to approve the report.
  2. Terry:
  • Good year so far, feels fortunate that sales are growing.
  • The new POS system gives us capacity for 1000 stores if we want. The transition was more difficult than he expected but he is happy with it.
  • This is a busy time. Terry is going to TN for an extended vacation Dec 24 – Jan 3. Bob will be in charge while he’s gone. He will also be traveling to Chicago and Oregon in January on co-op business.
  • Very happy with the financial review done by Mackie, Reid & Company. They found nothing wrong and made no recommendations.
  • Bob Tero and John Mulle will continue to be in line as emergency successors to Terry.
  1. Questions:
    • Ariana – Will POS system offer store credit? Terry – Right now we are working on e-receipts and gift cards. Hopefully store credit will be available after a year. It will probably take 2 years to get it fully functional.
  2. Deborah will add the following comments in GM monitoring sheet:
  • Very favorable results from the financial review.
  • Request Bob and/or John attend the board retreat.

Actions Taken: Passes unanimously.

Actions Required: None


  1. Board Functioning – All

Issues Raised:

  1. NCGA Leadership Conference, CDS Leadership Training Jan 12
  • Letter re: conference is posted on board website. The GM and board president are invited, but they want feedback from whole board in one voice. Plan for 20 minutes of January board meeting to complete the survey as a board.
  • Terry – I’m excited that NCGA is now inviting the board into these events that were previously GM-only.
  • Board members who wish to attend the January 12 CDS leadership training should email Martha. Ariana and Betsy express interest. Martha will send the syllabus out.
  • Deborah and new Research Assistant are invited to attend the CDS 101 training. Deborah will email Martha to confirm.
    1. 2nd half R self-evaluation – All have completed it. Deborah will prepare report for January meeting.
    2. Year-end housekeeping – Martha did a lot beforehand.
    3. Committee meetings:
      • Finance Committee – April 24, 5:15 at the warehouse
      • Member Engagement Committee – January 21, time and place tbd
    4. Co-opera – Martha, due January 10
    5. Maggie – Stunned by the sophistication of this co-op. This co-op story needs to be understood by its members.

Actions Taken: None

Actions Required: None


  1. Board Study – Can New Mexico Feed New Mexicans – Susan

Issues Raised:  See Attached

Actions Taken: None

Actions Required: None


  1. Administrative Assistant Duties

Issues Raised:

  1. Deborah will make changes to the policy manual and save under Governance Docs and under the Director’s Handbook on the website (unless a better system becomes apparent):
    • Change X5 reporting to December (per November proposal)
    • 4 changes from an October proposal
    • Review all policy proposals since November 2011 and check that necessary changes have been made to the manual.
  2. Deborah will check that board surveys reflect changes to the manual
  3. Deborah and Ariana will meet in January to go over these and other web-related tasks

Actions Taken: None
Actions Required:  None

  1. Meeting evaluation

Issues Raised:

Betsy – Good study choice

Actions Taken: None

Actions Required:  None

  1. Next Meeting Agenda Construction

Issues Raised:

a. Finance committee will lead study hour – Last year concentrated on basics of reading financial statements. This year we’ll review that quickly and then expand into some interpretation.

b. Report from second half R survey

Actions Taken: None

Actions Required:  None


  1. Adjourn regular session

Martha moves and Roger seconds.

Actions Taken: Unanimous vote to adjourn the meeting at 7:55 p.m. This was followed by an executive session.

Actions Required:  None







La Montanita Food Co-op

Board of Directors Meeting – December 18, 2012


Topic: Can New Mexico Feed New Mexicans – Susan



Rationale for group conversation: We are a board with mandate to educate. This is an opportunity to educate about the larger idea of localization and the concept of a moral economy. We have the purpose of feeding people rather than turning a profit. Co-op could capture that as a narrative.




1. Shuman, Michael H. (2000). Prospects for Food Localization in New Mexico. Silver Spring, MD: Author.

2. Kloppenburg, Jack, Hendrickson, John, and Stevenson, G.W. (1996). “Coming into the Foodshed.” Agriculture and Human Values 13(3, Summer), 33-42.



Key Themes in Discussion:


1. Goal: Reach “food deserts” with healthy, locally grown produce.

  • Profit-focused grocery stores will not go into food deserts.
  • The co-op model allows us to bring food to these areas, but only if subsidized by grants/donations or supported by an urban store (e.g. Gallup store would not have survived independent of the Abq Rio Grande store).
  • Marshall – I have noticed that rural grocery stores have terrible fresh produce. Is the issue that the produce isn’t moving through fast enough to stay fresh?
  • Terry – That’s part of it. Volume is key. Delivery only comes so often. Smart management is also important.
  • Where are people in these areas shopping? They are shopping at Walmart and gas stations. Drugstores are selling more produce. They also drive long distances and stock up.
  • Vendors/stores selling local foods are competing against a huge supply of cheap food.


2. One challenge in reaching “food deserts” is that local diets do not demand good produce.

  • Education has potential to change the way people eat, creating more demand for local food.
  • Are we food or are we co-op? Are we willing to go conventional to meet community needs?
  • Perhaps stores in these areas need to take into account the local customs and cultures when it comes to food – e.g. In Native American communities, what was traditionally eaten during each season of the year? Maybe a more realistic approach is to provide them with seasonal traditional foods, rather than introducing a new diet.


3. Problems are not to be solved by businesses alone.

  • Farmers’ markets may have more potential than organic grocery stores to be successful in food deserts. Farmers are local vendors who do not have the organic certification but consumers trust that the vendors are running clean farms.


3. The Shuman article describes measures that could be helpful to La Montanita as measures of our impact.

  • Betsy – We struggle with how we measure achieving our ends. We need a clearer set of outcome measures. This report made me think about creative ways to measure all kinds of things—e.g. success with local economy, agricultural practices, etc.
  • Marshall – The multiplier effect in particular holds potential for us.
  • Invite Michael Schumann to a board retreat?


4. Value-added products provide an opportunity for reaching more people with good, local food.

  • Commercial kitchens are a great thing going on around NM. Kitchens provide small operations with a cost-efficient way to take care of key steps before a product can get on the shelf. The South Valley Kitchen is in the process of trying to identify all of the certified kitchens around the state. I think that’s an opportunity because people springboard out of these kitchens into their own place or into a bigger facility.


5. We do not live in a homogeneous society.

  • This means diversity of cultural traditions re: food.
  • Also can make it more difficult to collaborate.


6.  Farmers are producing good food but not always in large quantities or at low prices.

  • Michelle – We work with the growers to identify potential opportunities, and then we try to get buyers in line, and then we make deals with them. Challenges – 1. Hard to get growers together for a conversation and planning. 2. Sometimes growers want too much for their product—don’t always understand the cost of distribution.
  • Getting food into Albuquerque Public Schools is one idea, but APS is difficult to navigate. A grant has gotten local food into some schools, but in general you are in a bidding process. A lot of producers are NM growers but farther away, larger operations. There is nothing wrong with that because that is what it’s going to take. You are going to have to have bigger players to feed New Mexico.


7. The government plays a role in local food.

  • Policies influence how people are raised to eat.
  • Policies are needed to support the infrastructure; subsidies for vendors in food deserts.
  • La Montanita might have clout with government, especially using the multiplier effect. Our role in influencing government is something for us to think about.


8. How can we educate consumers about the role La Montanita plays in the movement for local food?