‘The program has changed my life’
Fresh food helping low income families stay healthy
One Glace Bay woman is thankful she is able to take part in the Fresh Food 4 All costsharing program for a second year.
The married mother of two is a client of the Glace Bay Food Bank, a partner organization in the program run by the Pan Cape Breton Food Hub. Because her body is unable to metabolize carbohydrates, she needs to eat a lot of vegetables. The cost-sharing program allows the family to buy the vegetables from local farmers for a reduced price, allowing them to eat healthier through the year.
“It’s very expensive to buy vegetables from the grocery store and we don’t have a car to go to a farm,” said the woman, who wished to remain anonymous so people don’t know her family uses the food bank.
“I’ve been able to eat meals with proper ingredients instead of just lettuce and chicken.”
For example, she said bok choy is a “big deal” in her household and to buy it from the grocery store can cost about $18 a head. Through the cost-sharing Pan Cape Breton Food Hub program, it only
costs $4 a head and she buys extra to freeze for the winter.
“The program has changed my life … The other day I had stir fry for the first time in about a year,” she said.
Costs for the 2018 program are partially funded by the Ecology Action Centre, the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Public Service Alliance of Canada. Pan Cape Breton Food Hub covered the rest for this third year of the program through fundraising.
Food hub spokesperson Alicia Lake said response to the program has been excellent. A survey conducted after last year’s workshop showed the majority of participants reported healthier eating habits, increased confidence in cooking and more home-cooked meals.
“In our program the families get to choose what they want … From the same list of foods as our other customers,” she said.
“We’ve just removed some of the financial barriers for them.”
Besides the boost in their daily consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, Kimberly MacPherson from the Glace Bay Food Bank said she sees program participants benefit in other ways as well.
“It has empowered them to eat healthier, exercise more and some said they have less doctor appointments… Some families haven’t even needed their other orders from the food bank,” MacPherson said.
“Some of these clients have even started volunteering at the food bank since being involved in the Food Hub cost sharing program. They want to give back and they feel they are a part of a community now.”
Around the table from left to right are Michelle Kalbhenn, Ruth Martell, Katherine MacLeod and Brenda Whalen at the first food preparation workshop for the 2018 Fresh Food 4 All program. The cost sharing programs is done by the Pan Cape Breton Food Hub and it gives some families who are clients of the Glace Bay Food Bank the chance to buy fresh local produce and meats at reduced costs for a limited time.