Laura Penske

1. Why are you running for the board and what skill sets do you bring to the table?

I am passionate about good food: eating, cooking and growing it! I have an MA from Lehigh University in Environmental Policy Design with a focus on food policy. While I was earning my degree, I also completed a fellowship with Buy Fresh Buy Local GLV and the Nurture Nature Center. This taught me both about local food systems and about developing relationships with community partners. One of my last positions was as a project manager for the City of Pawtucket, Rhode Island; I believe this experience would be helpful as a board member, as starting a Food Co-Op may be viewed as a major project! I have been back in the Lehigh Valley since last summer when I married my husband and am currently helping him to grow his business. My schedule is very flexible, and I would love to spend more of my time helping to bring the Bethlehem Food Co-Op into our Lehigh Valley community.

2. What do you believe is the value of cooperative enterprise in today's economy?

I believe that cooperative enterprise such as a food co-op is valuable in any economy as its member/owners are able to decide how it is run. However, this cooperative aspect does seem even more appealing in our current economy, where it seems that profits are the main driver of how a typical grocery store is run and which products it carries (or doesn't carry). In contrast, a co-op's members may decide that other values should be supported, such as buying from local farmers, artisans and vendors; buying organic and/or fair trade certified; or even something as basic as carrying recycled paper products. Simply put, a locally owned co-op will best be able to serve the community because it is run by the very community it serves.

3. What aisle can we expect to see you shopping in when our co-op opens?

Produce and Dairy: I love to cook with fresh fruits and vegetables, and I really love me some good cheese! (Wine is also good with cheeseā€¦)

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