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Helping residents stock their cupboards

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This article was published 17/12/2014 (2969 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It’s now easier to access healthy foods in Elmwood, thanks to a new low-cost groceries initiative.

The Better Access to Groceries (BAG) project launched in October to provide bags of food for an affordable price, with orders taken every two weeks.

The BAG program is part of the Essential Foods in Elmwood initiative, which is co-ordinated by leadership from the Chalmers Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation (CNRC) and Together in Elmwood (TIE) Parent & Child Coalition, along with other community agencies and organizations.

Supplied photo Those who purchase grocery bags from the new Better Access to Groceries Project will have the opportunity to learn how to make nutritious meals — like the one pictured — using their ingredients at a local community kitchen program.

Dale Karasiuk, executive director of CNRC, explains that three different options are available.  

“One is a fruit and vegetables bag for $10. One is a dry staples bag for $10, which is things like flour and sugar and salt. Then there’s also a $5 staple bag of canned goods, like soups and tomato sauces and beans,” Karasiuk said.

“So far, we’re averaging about 15 to 20 bags per week, and we’re in our fourth cycle of orders now. It’s starting to grow and get a lot more interest.”

Anyone who wants to order a bag of groceries can email elmwoodbag@gmail.com or visit the CNRC office (180 Poplar Ave.) or Chalmers Community Centre (480 Chalmers Ave.).  Once the orders are received, groceries are then bought in bulk for the best possible price.

“The bags change their components depending on what’s on sale at the time we go shopping,” Karasiuk said.

“The fruits and vegetable bags could include any combination such as broccoli, cauliflower, avocados, apples and bananas, depending on what our best deal is.”

Shopping trips occur every second Monday, and the bags are available for pickup the next afternoon at Chalmers Community Centre. In the future, the group hopes to increase delivery to different sites. Volunteers are welcome to help with any part of the process by contacting Karasiuk at 204-669-0750 or chalmersrenewal@mymts.net

As program co-ordinator for TIE, Leilani Esteban is pleased to see improved access to healthy foods in the area.

“The whole reason the Better Access to Groceries came about was because we had two students do a practicum and we had done some focus groups with some of the parents in our program. One of the things that our parents said was that there were no groceries in the area that they could get to,” she said. “With the stores that were around, the grocery items were either too costly or not very fresh or not of good value. That was the biggest barrier to groceries. So Chalmers Neighbourhood Renewal put together a program and worked with the parents of TIE Tykes to get this out to the community.

“We were also going to use the ingredients that were purchased for food bags as a recipe in our community kitchen.”

In addition to the BAG program, the Essential Foods in Elmwood initiative consists of two other components, Karasiuk added.

“One component is support and awareness and promotion of all of the types of things related to food security, whether that be breakfast clubs or lunch programs or the Riverwood Church food bank. We’re making sure that we help to promote those in any way that we possibly can,” he said.

“Secondly, we worked with Kildonan MCC Thrift Shop to put on the Market Garden Experience for the first time in the area in September. That was a huge success. We had about eight or nine vendors, and we had well over 300 people come through the market garden.”

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