Scaling back hours, losing staff and increasing the prices on certain products are only some of the consequences of Le Frigo Vert’s dire financial situation, as its annual general meeting on Nov. 16 made clear.
The food co-operative’s lack of funding can be attributed in large part to the failed attempt at increasing its fee-levy among undergraduate students during a referendum earlier this year.
The result of that vote coupled with other losses of income have prevented Le Frigo Vert from actively taking on other initiatives, such as a possible expansion to the Loyola campus, said collective member Gab Perry Stensson.
“Expanding to Loyola definitely remains a possibility, but we just don’t have the room to work with that right now,” he said. “We had a board member who did some outreach at Loyola and noticed that there was an interest to have something similar to the Frigo Vert there, seeing as most services for students are downtown.”
Collective member Rachel Tremblay, who presented Le Frigo Vert’s budget, indicated that one of the main goals this year was to try to attract more volunteers in order to reduce the number of paid staff members.
“If we have to use paid staff, it’s really hard right now,” she said. “We’ve already cut down to the bare bones, and now this year we’ve had to cut even more. We kept our operating expenses the same, but we did this by cutting $30,000 in wages. So that means we’re short-staffed.”
Tremblay explained that the funding of Frigo Vert’s educational programming, such as its anti-colonial thanksgiving, was maintained this year as the cooperative deemed it too important to cut. However, they are still trying to solicit volunteers for the activities.
The lack of dollars has meant that Frigo Vert has been forced to cut its morning hours and to close on Fridays. It has lost three employees partially due to budget cuts and it has been forced to raise the prices on certain items, such as its medicinal products, by 15 to 20 per cent. It is predicting a deficit of over $10,600.
Le Frigo Vert’s fee-levy among graduate students is now up for renewal this year, and the co-operative’s collective members are hoping for the best.
“We’re definitely fearful of losing the GSA funding, so we are trying to be as conservative as possible in order to still have a little bit of extra emergency funding,” said Tremblay. “Hopefully we can learn from the campaigning we did last year, and hopefully the loss last year will help us mobilize a bit more.”