‘The pro­gram has changed my life’

Fresh food help­ing low in­come fam­i­lies stay healthy

Cape Breton Post - - Glace Bay / New Waterford & Area - BY NIKKI SUL­LI­VAN

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.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

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.

Lake

MacPher­son

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