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Blog

  • Nick Blankenberg: Your Co-Op's Newest Board Member

    Last week, the Bethlehem Food Co-Op board of directors voted unanimously to appoint Nick Blankenberg to the board. We are excited to welcome Nick, a long time member of the Co-Op, in this capacity!

  • Finding Your (Third) Place at the Co-Op by Jenn Dize

    Dear Fellow Cooperator,

    I moved to Bethlehem in July of 2007.  I was fresh out of a midwest graduate school and had grown up in Virginia.  I had extended family over by Pittsburgh, but the Lehigh Valley was completely new to me and, man, was there a steep learning curve.  I enjoyed learning about all that Bethlehem has to offer: easy access to mountains and trails and streams, a whole lot of festivals and fairs and fanfare, what December looks like in the Christmas City, and, sadly, how lonely it is to start somewhere new as an adult.  I tried going to some young professional meetups (but I’m a major introvert, so…), joining acquaintances and their friends for dinner (awkward!), and even tried to find a church community (long story, but that didn’t work out either). Eventually I met the woman who would become my wife and joined her social circle, which thankfully was welcoming and today includes some of my own closest friends, and I did cultivate one or two friendships on my own.  Yet, still I never managed to find a community, a sense of identity or purpose outside of work.

    In 2015 my wife joined the co-op board and soon thereafter attended a conference.  When she came back she told me about the concept of the third place. For most of us, home is our first place and work is our second place.  The third place can be an athletic team, a church, a gym, any number of places. One of the goals of co-ops like ours, my wife told me, was to be that third place for people.  A light bulb went off -- maybe this co-op, our co-op, could be my third place…

    After gradually ramping up my involvement, in 2016 I ran for and was elected to the board.  A few months in I began chairing the Member Outreach committee, then in 2017 I was appointed Vice Chair of the board (which is sort of a chair-elect position).  That means that within the span of three years I will have likely (fingers crossed!) gone from barely-involved to chairing the co-op… and let me tell you, that is not where I thought that was going to go!  Fortunately for me, taking those first steps to get more involved turned out to be a meaningful, enriching, maybe even life-changing opportunity.  I got to meet new people with a pre-packaged topic of conversation built into the interaction! I learned a lot about cooperative enterprise, like how it has its roots in African American communities, how it contributes to empowering underserved communities, and how much it matters in a capitalist economy.  I’ve seen many sides of this city, now my home for more than 10 years, as I’ve attended recruitment events, hosted documentary screenings, met with city officials, and read our market study. I have attended local meetings with other area co-op boards, spoken with local and national experts, completed math equations to develop our timeline (hello again, Algebra!), and have met some of the best people in the area.  It is important to me that you know what a vibrant, thoughtful, determined group of people are steering this ship.

    You will hear a lot from us, the board, in the coming weeks, months, and years.  We will ask you to contribute financially, we will ask you to contribute your time and energy, we will ask you to shop in our -- and your-- store!  Amidst all that asking, we may sometimes forget to tell you what you’ll get in return. A co-op isn’t just a grocery store, and it isn’t just a business.  It’s a commitment to our Bethlehem community and it is its own community. Sitting at a table with a fellow member-owner at VegFest or a farmer’s market, stuffing envelopes in a random conference room on a college campus, entering data, meeting at local restaurants for committees, it’s all about connection and it’s right here waiting for you.  The co-op will need your help to open and maybe, like me, you’ll end up needing it right back.

    In cooperation and in community,

    Jenn Dize

  • Learning about cooperative enterprise at CCMA 2018

    Last month I attended the 2018 Consumer Cooperative Management Association conference in Portland, Oregon on behalf of BFC. It was my third time attending the conference. The information shared in the sessions and by the speakers is invaluable to a startup co-op like ours. It is mostly attended by established cooperative grocery stores that have been in business for 30 years, 40 years, or longer.

  • State of the Co-op - update letter

    Dear Fellow Bethlehem Food Co-Op Member-Owners,

    With warmer weather arriving, signs of growth and life are emerging all around us. The past year has proven to be one of significant growth and development for our Co-Op, too. You may be scratching your head right now wondering if you missed a big announcement because, while you’ve seen lots of social media posts and flyers about events and educational programs sponsored by the Co-Op at local venues, you haven’t seen much substantive news on our development.

  • Vermicomposting: Sustainability with a Thousand Helpful Pets

    A main goal of the Bethlehem Food Co-op is to create a source of locally-produced, healthy food for its residents. While waiting for the grocery store to open, members can learn to grow their own gardens and create a sustainable source of food.

  • Celebrating Women in Cooperative Businesses

    Happy International Women’s Day! It’s a holiday that gets more attention abroad than it tends to receive here in the United States, but today the Bethlehem Food Co-Op would like to acknowledge the contribution of women to cooperative businesses all over the world, and in turn, the work such organizations do to improve the wellbeing of women everywhere.

  • Cooking Up Great Food & Local Support from Roasted Bethlehem

    On the evening of Wednesday, February 28, the Food Co-Op will hold a Membership Mixer at Roasted, a breakfast and lunch hot spot on the Southside of Bethlehem. We caught up with Co-Owner (and BFC Member) Derek Wallen to ask about his restaurant, local food and community support.

  • Show your co-op pride with a yard sign

    BFC yard signs are still available for purchase online and at co-op events. 

  • The Yoga Loft - A Welcoming Southside Sanctuary

    The Yoga Loft, now under the leadership of its new owner, Rachel Abott, has a beautiful vibe in the heart of the South Side. The yoga studio will be hosting a special event for our Food Co-op on Monday evening, January 22 at 5:30 pm.

  • West Side Moravian Church – Feeding the Community

    Many local organizations have generously volunteered support for our Food Co-op, and West Side Moravian Church has certainly been a shining star among them.

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