What would we lose if Quabbin Harvest wasn’t there? That’s the question that brought dozens of co-op members and supporters out to a board meeting on a cold February evening to discuss what it would take to keep the business alive.
Two years ago, the co-op board accepted that the store may never be sustainable on food sales alone. We’ve been pursuing other revenue sources since then—but the weight of a long-running deficit has resulted in several “can we make it?” moments. The latest felt like it might be the final one. We asked ourselves that sobering question: What would be lost if we closed? Here’s what we realized:
- We would lose programs providing fresh, high-quality food to low-income eaters through the Healthy Incentives Program, senior shares, and other initiatives.
- Area farms and food businesses, many of them very small businesses like ourselves, would lose an outlet for their products—more than $150,000 worth in the past year.
- We would lose the good foods from Nalini’s Kitchen. There would be less business and life in Orange’s struggling downtown.
There would be financial losses too, but board members and attendees at the February meeting agreed that the reasons to keep going are about far more than finances. People spoke passionately about the store as a vital community resource in uncertain times and an important link in our local food chain.
At the end of the night, the board voted to move forward with a fundraising goal to cover our projected losses over the rest of 2020 and get ahead of the next “can we make it?” moments. We’ve already raised enough toward that goal that we feel confident about taking the next steps. We’re grateful to Mount Grace’s leadership for their willingness to continue in this adventure with us, and look forward to building on the good things we’ve created together.