Cooperative Principles

The International Cooperative Alliance was formed in 1895 to
advance The Co-op model. Nowadays, all co-ops are governed
by a set of 7 principles. On July 9th, 2016 our co-op’s Board of
Trustees adopted 5 more! These principles are guidelines by
which cooperatives put their values into practice.

Below are Sno-Isle Food Co-op's 12 principles as defined by our Board of Trustees.


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Principle #1: Voluntary Open Membership

Anyone can sign up for Co-op Ownership as long as they live in the United States. They must accept responsibilities of ownership.

Principle #2: Democratic Member Control

The Co-op is governed by a Board of Trustees which is voted in democratically by the  membership. Any changes in Policy Governance must be voted upon by membership. 

Principle #3: Member Economic Participation

Members contribute equity towards the co-op with one time $100 payment. Part of The Co-op's capital use goes to local organizations voted on a monthly basis by the membership. Compensation is rewarded to owners through sales, store discounts, and Patronage Dividends.  Equity is also contributed to co-op development which in return provides for its members.  

Principle #4: Autonomy and Independence

The Co-op is independently self-governed following the Policy Governance which is put into place. 


Principle #5: Education, Training and Information

The Co-op is to be a resource for its members and community. The Co-op has an Outreach Coordinator with a job description which includes distributing educational information to the community by maintaining a co-op presence at local events that focus on food and nutrition issues, community building, sustainability, environmental preservation and conservation, cooperative values, or addressing social concerns. Management, the Board of Trustees and the Outreach Coordinator participate in the Member Linkage Committee whose purpose is to link the whole Co-op (staff, BOT, volunteers and members) to the community by participating in or hosting events, drives and other activities. The General Management includes specific goals in co-op Education, Training and Information in their Business Plans as well. There are monthly, quarterly and yearly trainings for staff, managers and board members provided by The Co-op too.

Principle #7: Concern for Community

A sustainable community is one that is economically, environmentally, and socially healthy and resilient. The Co-op's buying practices prioritize local business, farmers and producers. The General Management has set requirements to minimize the amount of packaging and waste that is not compostable, or recyclable. Ongoing programs support increased access and accessibility of co-op products to local schools, non-profit organizations, food banks, and hospitals. Finally, The Co-op participates in multiple groups organized by local governments, neighborhood associations, and other concerned parties to improve the overall health of the community.

Principle #6: Cooperation Among Co-operatives

In an effort to work as a team with other surrounding co-ops, SIFC has joined the National Co-op Grocery Association. This is a national organization created to strengthen co-ops through education and combined buying power. We also honor other co-op memberships at the register for co-op member deals to be passed on. Management and Department Managers all work with neighboring co-ops for ideas, support, trainings and education. During NCGA trainings, BOT members from varying co-ops work together to learn from one another. 



Principle #8: Concern for Ecosystems

We value the Earth’s living systems, beings, and resources. We are committed to minimizing our impact on them and to supporting their regeneration.


9th Principle: Concern for Workers

We are committed to providing safe, purposeful, and dignified employment at a livable wage. We encourage and enable staff participation in the governance and economic success of The Co-op.

10th Principle: Skilled Cooperative Management

We rely on skilled management that empowers staff and aligns with the cooperative business model. We seek to develop staff skills and improve understanding of our business and the broader cooperative movement.

11th Principle: Strategic Leadership

We are committed to cultivating leadership, accountability, and trust among all levels of operation. Leaders are aligned on principles and strategy, while demonstrating individual initiative. They seek diverse perspectives and challenge their own assumptions.

12th Principle: Innovative Culture

We are committed to fostering a culture of diversity, learning, innovation, and continuous improvement to better serve our owners, ensure the Co-op’s success, and improve implementation of the cooperative principles.