The Davis Food Co-op completed its first month of its new program, Round Up at the Registers this November. This initiative allows shoppers at the grocery store to bring their total to the nearest whole dollar, and all of the change collected is donated each month to a different school in the Davis Joint Unified School District (DJUSD).
The program, according to Julie Cross, the marketing director of the Davis Food Co-op, raised $685 last month for Fairfield Elementary — a two-room school and the smallest school in the Davis school district.
Cross said that the Round Up program replaced an older program in which schools would buy Co-op gift certificates and resell them to parents to raise money.
“It was pretty cumbersome and expensive to run and didn’t have a huge amount of participation, so we thought we would get rid of something that didn’t work very well and replace it with something easier,” Cross said.
According to the Co-op’s website, one DJUSD elementary or junior high school is signed up each month through July of next year to receive the benefits from Round Up. Patwin Elementary School will be the recipient of all December proceeds.
The Davis Food Co-op is a full supermarket that is run cooperatively. Its website explains that any California resident can become a member of the Co-op to receive member prices on food and play a role in how the store operates.
“I really like my interactions with the customers, especially people who have been invested in the Co-op for a while [that] feel like it’s…a part of their community,” said Liliana Jacobs, a fourth-year sustainable agriculture and food systems major who is a cashier at the Co-op.
The cashiers are responsible for promoting and executing the Round Up program. Jacobs said that in her experience, many customers want to round up simply because it is convenient for them to bring their price to the nearest dollar. Customers paying in cash especially appreciate not having to receive change.
The Co-op has other programs to involve children in the community, including Carrots in the Classroom, which is offered for free to DJUSD elementary schools.
“We go to a different elementary school classroom every week and offer cooking, yoga and storytelling, so we have three different instructors who go. That’s something that our staff is really excited about,” Cross said.
This holiday season, the Co-op has more programs to support the community, beginning with the children’s candlelight parade that starts at the store Dec. 4. Later this month, the Co-op will put on its 29th annual Holiday Meal. This event is held on Christmas Eve at the Veterans Memorial Center in Davis. Cross said that about 800 people attend the meal, including homeless people, senior citizens without families nearby, UC Davis students who cannot make it home for the holidays and Co-op members who have made it part of their holiday tradition. The meal is free, but they accept monetary donations from attendees to donate to another non-profit. This year the funds will be allocated to support the Yolo Food Bank.
The Co-op engages with the community in other ways as well, with projects such as cooking classes and interest groups. There are cooking classes for adults, such as the “Intro to Caramel” class this Friday, and hands-on classes for children. Interest groups that meet regularly include those based on veganism, a gluten-free diet, permaculture and crafting. The cooking classes charge a small amount to cover the costs, but all of the interest groups are free and open to anyone.
For more information, visit the Co-op’s website at davisfood.coop.