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CEDAR FALLS — The Cedar Falls Food Co-op, which has been steadily growing its membership for a full-service cooperative grocery store in Cedar Falls, has announced that it will be changing its name.

In a letter to its nearly 950 members, the board of directors of the co-op announced that it is dropping Cedar Falls from the name in order to better reflect the regional impact the co-op will have on the greater Cedar Valley.

The new name, which will be selected following input from members and the community, will be unveiled in October.

“After weighing all the evidence, we made the conclusion that a name change is in the best interest for the long-term success of our co-op,” the letter stated.

The board outlined a number of reasons why the name change makes sense. One was the fact that the farms and ranches that will provide produce and meats for the co-op come from all over Northeast Iowa. On average, food co-ops in the U.S. buy from 106 local producers like beekeepers, coffeemakers, farmers, brewers and more. Additionally, the current membership base extends beyond Cedar Falls.

Board member Joy Thorson noted that the co-op’s membership spills well beyond the Cedar Falls city limits. “Just over one-fourth of co-op members reside in zip codes other than 50613,” she said. “Forty-six percent of those members live in Waterloo, Elk Run Heights, and Evansdale.”

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Thorson said that co-op members also live in Waverly, Janesville, Hudson, Independence, Dike, Grundy Center, Jesup, New Hampton, Tripoli, Traer and other cities as well.

The board said it is still working hard to open an 8,000-square-foot, full-service grocery store in or near downtown Cedar Falls, but they pointed out that the grocery store is really the first step in a long-range plan that could include satellite locations, a food truck, or even additional sites in other communities in the region.

“In short, after a few years, the only thing about the co-op that means Cedar Falls would be the location of the first store,” the letter stated.

Jacqueline Hannah, assistant director at Food Cooperative Initiative, a consulting company that supports start-up food co-ops across the country, said the decision by the Cedar Falls Food Co-op is the right move. “This co-op has been very meticulous in its decision-making process, and moving to a more regional name is a shrewd and smart decision on their part, especially as they look long term for sustainable success,” she said.

The co-op will host two input sessions for members in June and is also providing an online survey for the community to provide suggestions for a new name.

More details can be found at www.facebook.com/CedarFalls.Coop.

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