The Bethlehem Food Co-Op: “It can be so much for the Bethlehem community” — but is taxpayer funding ok?

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Still thinking about the tension of funding the Bethlehem Food Co-Op with Federal government CDBG money through the City.

The question seems to be whether means and end are aligned.

No question — Gadfly says as a Co-Op member! — that the end is noble.

Listen to BFC Board member Kathy Fox (remember that Kathy posted about BFC activities a day or so ago) during audience discussion at a panel after Festival UnBound’s “Poets, Troubadours, and Troublemakers” event a few weeks ago.

“One of our goals in having a community-owned full service grocery store in downtown Bethlehem is to bring people together through food . . . Co-ops are much more than just a grocery store . . . It’s all about community . . .You have to educate . . . I talked to some of the Latinos that joined to find out just trying to find out what we have to do in order to make our store a place from your neighborhood would come to . . . It can be so much for the Bethlehem community . . . consider joining it to try to create this hub for our community, to shop and to meet and to talk and to learn.”

Noble cause, no question.

But even BFC member Gadfly was surprised at tax dollars as a means to that noble end.

And is hoping that the City can help clarify the issue.

Gadfly has had his share of grant application experience.

From his experience, he remembers applications, on the one hand, that are open-ended — just tell us what you want to do.

On the other hand, he remembers applications that are very specific — here are the specific goals of our program, tell us exactly how what you want to do fits these goals.

Gadfly feels that the application for a government grant would probably lean toward the latter kind of application.

And thus Gadfly feels that more information from the City about the BFC application and how the City saw that application in compliance with CDBG guidelines would help clear the air.

But Gadfly is still wondering about the question of Council members voting on a project that they “own”?

Anybody with ideas on that point?

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