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The United Nations has declared 2012 the “International Year of Cooperatives,” and the National Cooperative Grocers Association and its 122 member and associate food co-ops are joining other cooperatives in marking the occasion.
The UN General Assembly will officially launch the International Year of Cooperatives in New York on Monday at an event attended by Robynn Shrader, CEO of NCGA.
To celebrate, the UN will hold a series of events throughout the day, including a roundtable on how co-ops contribute to sustainable development. Cooperatives, civil society organizations, member states and UN system organizations are also organizing side events to commemorate the occasion and to highlight the diverse role of cooperatives in development.
The launch aims to increase public awareness about cooperatives and to promote the formation and growth of cooperatives worldwide. Members of the United Nations, observers, organizations of the United Nations system, cooperatives and non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council are invited to participate in the IYC launch.
“The United Nations’ declaration provides a platform and momentum for co-ops to tell their stories on a local and global level,” Shrader said. “We are eager to share the many benefits cooperative grocers bring to their communities. This is a great opportunity to connect with each other, celebrate the dedication of our existing shoppers and owners, and help more people across the country discover that food co-ops are about fresh, delicious foods and so much more.”
NCGA is planning a variety of activities throughout the year, including an online video series hosted by Kevin Gillespie, co-owner and executive chef at the Woodfire Grill Restaurant in Atlanta and Season 6 finalist of the Bravo TV series “Top Chef.” Gillespie will demonstrate the unique role co-ops have in building local food systems and their impact in their communities.
These videos will be made available for viewing throughout the year, beginning with a virtual premiere on Jan. 21.
NCGA’s member and associate food co-ops will also host a variety of special events and activities to promote co-ops’ importance to local and global communities.
“The International Year of Cooperatives calls attention to the transformational role co-ops play in our economy and our lives,” Shrader said. “We’re always incredibly proud to be a part of the cooperative community; even more so at this historic moment.”
Founded in 1999, Iowa City, Iowa-based National Cooperative Grocers Association is a business services cooperative for retail food co-ops located throughout the United States. Its 122 members and associate co-ops operate nearly 160 storefronts in 34 states with combined annual sales of more than $1.3 billion.