Nominee Q&A: Arlene Clendenning

2015 Board Nominee Arlene Clendenning has been a member-owner of the Bethlehem Food Co-Op since 7/1/2013.

1.    Why do you want to be a member of the Bethlehem Food Co-Op Board of Directors?

I am a member of the co-op, but I would like to become more involved in planning and make a larger contribution to the formation of the co-op, to support its’ mission and to insure its’ longevity for future generations.

2.    Briefly explain what you believe are two key issues facing the Co-op and how you believe these issues could be addressed.

a.    Location  -  A crucial detail, it must be readily accessible to all residents of Bethlehem, whether by car, by foot, by bike or by bus.   The place must have plenty of free parking, be along bus routes and walkable from the schools.  It should have gathering space both indoors and outdoors for classes, meetings or other meet-ups.

b.    Fund Raising – An important part of any business is their finances.  Can we apply for start-up grants from the state of PA or from the federal government? Will we pursue local business ownership or underwriting?  What other sources of revenue exist?  We need to research and find other sources of revenue, which may be hidden (spend time Googling/researching on the internet).

3.    What particular skills, knowledge, and/or life experience do you bring to our Food Co-op that enables you to support and advance its mission?

I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from Seton Hall University, NJ, and over twenty years of work experience in the non-profit healthcare sector, including general ledger accounting and financial analysis. I am currently working part-time for both the Moravian Church and for WDIY FM radio.

Over the years, I have donated my time & efforts to the betterment of the community by volunteering for:  WDIY FM radio station, the Miller-Keystone Blood Center, GMO Free PA and the Animal Food Bank of Bethlehem.

Upon visiting family in Bloomington, IN a few years back, we found a food co-op that was thriving in this college town. We were very impressed with the selection of fresh foods, but it was an area in the back of the store that impressed us the most: a prepared foods counter, with freshly made sandwiches, salads, baked goods, etc. with small tables & chairs to the side, and coffee & tea service.  It seemed like a wonderful place to have a cup of coffee/tea, or lunch, or a small meeting.   I asked a lot of questions and learned about their co-op.  The positive energy within the store was intoxicating.

4.    What do you see as potential opportunities for the Co-op as it develops long-term strategies?

We need to build relationships with local business owners who have other goods & services to offer, for example, yoga, composting or cooking classes. We need to have open communication with local church groups, schools, and retirement homes that can visit and support the co-op.  Lastly, we need to build bridges between us and the global Fair Trade markets, to sell their coffee, tea, chocolate, jewelry, etc.  

5.    When the co-op opens, what is the first item you hope to put in your shopping basket?

Well, I would love a huge bunch of salad greens and heirloom tomatoes! I also think that the food co-op should include healthy food options for our companion pets.  For example, there is a local pet food manufacturer, Fresh Pet, with whom the co-op should establish a relationship.

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