Board Purpose & Values

The Board of Directors is composed of and elected by Co-op owners. The seven Board members act as trustees for the Co-op by providing direction and oversight regarding the Co-op’s financial well-being and long-term goals and by evaluating the General Manager’s performance.

Foundational Values

Governance of the Co-op is shaped by our identity as a cooperative and the values that define cooperatives. A cooperative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise. The Moscow Food Co-op supports the International Cooperative Alliance’s 7 Cooperative Principles:

  1. Voluntary and Open Membership
    Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political, or religious discrimination.
  2. Democratic Member Control
    Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary cooperatives members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote) and cooperatives at other levels are organized in a democratic manner.
  3. Member Economic Participation
    Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the cooperative. They usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any of all of the following purposes: developing the cooperative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the cooperative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.
  4. Autonomy and Independence
    Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their cooperative autonomy.
  5. Education, Training and Information
    Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperatives. They inform the general public — particularly young people and opinion leaders — about the nature and benefits of cooperation.
  6. Cooperation among Cooperatives
    Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional, and international structures.
  7. Concern for Community
    Cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies accepted by their members.

Policy Governance

In 2007, the Board of Directors adopted a policy governance model to guide its leadership. Through policy governance, the Board creates and maintains policies for the store that help us put our values and vision into practice. Guidelines and long-term goals for finances and operations are established and monitored via “ends” and “executive limitations” policies that are updated as needed.

The policies shape things such as our wage range ratio, our sustainability goals, and the standards for protecting our assets. The Board’s focus is generally broader than operational specifics: the Board does not determine which brands of milk we sell, but a policy about sustainability could shape what our buyers put on the shelves. Another characteristic of policy governance is that Directors have limits. Individual directors do not have power; only the Board of Directors as a whole has the ability to make decisions.

The Board’s process to monitor for compliance helps ensure consistent and thoughtful decision-making. The policies exert their influence through an accountability process. Many policies place their expectations upon the General Manager, and so it’s through the GM’s accountability to the Board that we ensure we’re on track or are prompted to adjust.

For the Co-op’s complete policy governance manual, please click here. Questions?  Please email the Board’s Administrative Assistant at To directly contact the Board, email