Jenna Berendzen seems to wear a lot of hats: mom to boys Max and Samuel, wife of Peter, nurse practitioner at Allen’s Women’s health, student studying integrative mental health, board member at House of Hope a transitional program helping homeless women and children get back on their feet, and of course co-op member. In fact, Jenna is a member of three co-ops! She’s originally from the Twin Cities so she grew up shopping at co-ops, then joined Oneota in Decorah while going to school at Luther, and now she’s an owner of the Cedar Falls Food Co-op!
“I’m excited about it,” she explained, “because it’s more than just a supermarket. I love it from a personal and professional standpoint.” Health and wellness is her career, but also her passion. In her work at Allen Women’s Health she treats people regardless of their ability to pay and what she see’s is that “healthy food along with access to community resources is key. And our community would be perfect for that.”
She explained that, “We’re both from bigger cities, so when we moved here ten years ago it took awhile to adjust, and now we just love it! We go to the farmers market and take the kids to the rec center. We’re CSA subscribers, too. We just signed up for our second season with Kaiser farms.” She thinks the Cedar Valley, which has been a perfect fit for her family, will also be just right for a co-op. After all, she says. “You don’t have to be in the Twin Cities or a metropolitan area to have a thriving co-op.”
The co-op has helped the Berendzens feel even more strongly tied to their community. “A lot of our friends have joined the co-op as well, and that really makes it feel like we’re in the right place.” You know the slogan we love to use, “I own a grocery store with my friends!” ? That sounds a lot like Jenna’s story, but maybe we could add, “I own so much more than a grocery story with my friends!”