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City Market, Onion River Co-op Declares Patronage Dividend

Burlington, VT - City Market, a Member-owned cooperative, has declared their annual Patronage Refund to Members, one of the tangible benefits of Co-op Membership. Member purchases totaled over 65% of Co-op sales in fiscal year 2014, and the City Market Board of Directors has voted to return over $968,000 in cash to Members as this year’s Patronage Refund. On November 7, the Co-op will mail checks to 10,399 Members, with an average check of $93. Almost four cents of every dollar eligible Members spent is being refunded.

Pat Burns, City Market’s General Manager, is proud of the Co-op’s ability to offer a Patronage Refund to Members. “The Co-op’s success is entirely because of the support of our Membership and community. Our cooperative structure continues to allow us to give back to our local community and the Patronage Refund is an integral part of that contribution.” Members have options to cash or donate their Patronage Refunds. Through donations, shared resources, and Member Worker volunteers, City Market partners with local non-profits to enhance our local food system and meet the needs of our community’s most food insecure families.

As in years past, City Market will facilitate donations of Members’ Patronage Refund checks to Hunger Free Vermont. Hunger Free Vermont is an education and advocacy organization with the mission to end the injustice of hunger and malnutrition for all Vermonters. “City Market has been a valuable partner for Hunger Free Vermont and we’re grateful for the support of their Members and staff,” says Marissa Parisi, Hunger Free Vermont’s Executive Director. “City Market’s Members donated almost $5,255 through their Patronage Refunds last year, which goes directly to helping alleviate food insecurity in our state. In Vermont, one in five children experiences hunger or food hardship and more than 84,000 Vermonters live in food insecure households. The donations we receive from City Market Members are integral to our efforts of helping all Vermonters access healthy food.”

Members also have the option not to cash their Patronage Refund check to support non-profits working to build our local food system.  In the past, these uncashed checks were donated to one organization.  Starting this year, the Co-op is distributing the funds from uncashed Patronage Refunds to organizations who have been awarded Co-op Patronage Seedling Grants.  During the summer, City Market solicited grant proposals from organizations working on strengthening our local food system.  A Member Grants Committee met to discuss the proposals and to recommend to the Board of Directors which projects to fund with uncashed Patronage Refund checks. Five projects totaling just over $20,000 were selected: Pine Island Farm: Chicken Collaborative, Living Well Group: Farm to Care Program, University of Vermont: Establishing a Swede Midge Damage Threshold for Brassica Crops, The Schoolhouse Learning Center: Taking Root: The Farm, Food, Forest (FFF) Program, and Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf: Food Shelf Mobile Pantry and Transport Trailer.  Throughout the year, we’ll be sharing stories and updates of these projects.

“The Patronage Refund is really like our own economic stimulus package,” stated Pat Burns. “Returning cash to our Members, which they then invest in local businesses and non-profits, is a unique aspect of the cooperative economy.  It’s a great feeling being able to provide our Members and our community with this exciting benefit!” Since 2008, City Market has recirculated just over $3.8 million in Cooperative profits (from sales to Members) back into the community. 


About City Market/Onion River Co-op

The Onion River Co-op is a consumer cooperative, with over 10,500 Members, selling wholesome food and other products while building a vibrant, empowered community and a healthier world, all in a sustainable manner. Located in downtown Burlington, Vermont, City Market provides a large selection of local, organic and conventional foods, and thousands of Vermont-made products. Visit City Market, Onion River Co-op online at or call 802-861-9700.