Bethlehem is a very walkable city, with two “sides” joined by a river, each boasting their own personalities and local characters.
Unfortunately, at the moment the gaping hole in what this community needs is a grocery store downtown. It’s something the residents have been talking about for years. We are all trying to learn more – is there a reason why there is no local store in walking distance of the rest of the shops and businesses? (At the moment signs point to insufficient parking being an issue. More needs to be looked at here.)
Some residents and folks in the area are coming together to talk about the wonderful idea of a Grocery Co-op in Bethlehem. I have been working with Cathy Frankenberg, local environmental activist and all-around wonderful person, to organize a plan to learn more about the possibility of bringing this to our town and carry it out.
A Grocery Co-op, in simplest terms for anyone not familiar with them, is essentially a grocery store that focuses on selling local/organic foods and environmentally friendly products. They often have (and our vision does) a community room to hold a cooking class or a movie screening/discussion. They often have a small cafe/prepared foods area so you can pick up some lunch or dinner and a fair trade coffee.
About the size of a Trader Joes – bigger than a small health food store but smaller than a large grocery chain - Co-ops are member owned: which means once you join as a member, you are now an owner of shares and this means you get to vote on issues and policies. (It also means you get a nice discount!)
Essentially a non-profit, Co-ops also mean prices reflect just enough revenue to cover the cost of operation and it’s staff, meaning items are affordable and use of extra revenue generated is voted upon by owners (see above!) to determine how best to use the money.
This also means quality foods and environmentally friendly products are affordable for most income levels. You should not have to make a lot of money to afford good, healthy food.
This could be an invaluable assest to our community and local farmers and anyone who would like to keep their dollars recycled among local businesses and community efforts.
JOIN THE FACEBOOK GROUP HERE: Bethlehem Grocery Co-op
A meeting open to ANYONE interested in learning more, with ideas to share, or experience or knowledge of moving forward is invited to come to a meeting (after which we can organize a steering committee):
- Bethlehem Grocery Co-op Meeting
- Wednesday, November 30th
- 7:00pm – 9:00pm
- Bethlehem Area Public Library (Main/Northside location)