BETHLEHEM – October 12, 2016 – At last week’s Bethlehem Food Co-op Annual Membership Meeting, the board of directors announced the formation of its real estate committee, which will begin the process of searching for a downtown location for the community-owned grocery store.

Volunteers were specifically invited to serve on the committee from a variety of backgrounds in order to provide well-rounded analysis of potential sites.

Committee members include:

  • Earl Bethel: Treasurer of Bethlehem’s Redevelopment Authority, Chairman of the Blighted Properties Commission
  • Joe Narkevic: Associate Engineer at the Stone House Group, specializing in energy efficiency
  • Diane Donaher: Former Deputy Director of Economic Development for the City of Bethlehem and Director of Community & Economic Development, Laros Foundation Trustee, founding Co- Chair of the Non Profit and Business Partners Council of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce
  • Heather Terrible: Licensed Real Estate Agent with Grace Realty Co., Inc.
  • Emily Hoffert: Co-Op Board Treasurer, Manager at Jumbars
  • Colleen Marsh: Co-Op Board Chairwoman

The goal of this committee will be to identify and evaluate potential sites within the areas serving Bethlehem food deserts, which include a large portion of the north side downtown and portions of south side. The Co-Op has recently engaged CDS Consulting Co-Op to put together a financial pro forma for the committee to use as a tool to evaluate sites during the real estate search.

Once the committee identifies a site or two that are viable, they will make a recommendation to the Co-Op board, and the committee will dissolve. The Co-Op’s board will then pursue a full market study on the location or locations recommended as conducted by a third party agency specializing in retail grocery stores. The study will help the Co-Op determine the feasibility of each location by analyzing a wide variety of factors about the property and surrounding area. The process of selecting the right location is expected to take several months to complete and will be followed by a capital campaign and member loan drive.

At the Annual Membership Meeting, Co-Op members also elected two new board members for three-year terms:

  • Jennifer Dize: Director of Student Conduct at Lafayette University, with over a decade of experience in community building, team leadership, and programmatic efforts
  • Javier Toro: OnTrack Program Director at Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley, member of the Bethlehem Mayor’s Latino Advisory Committee, Lehigh University South Side Initiative, and the Consumer Advisory Council for the Pennsylvania Utility Commission, former Executive Director of the South Bethlehem Neighborhood Center, former President of the South Bethlehem Historical Society

Colleen Marsh, who served her previous term as Board Chairwoman and is Communications Committee Co-Chair, was also re-elected for another three-year term.

The Bethlehem Food Co-Op is 350 member-owner households strong. It is owned by the community members it serves, and will support local producers and sustainable, humane, and natural food systems. Member-owners make a one-time $300 equity payment and will receive perks, such as an equal voice in Co-op operations, opportunities for hands-on involvement, discount days, and access to unique educational opportunities. Monthly payment plans are available to accommodate those who would like to divide up the equity payment. The faster the Co-op gains member-owners, the sooner the store can open to serve the community.

The Bethlehem Food Co-Op is a diverse community encouraging physical, social, and economic health by providing healthful, affordable food; emphasizing local, sustainable, humane, and natural food systems; and offering unique educational opportunities to the entire community. More information can be found at