Unique Food Sharing Program Helps Vulnerable Stretch Food Dollars

Unique Food Sharing Program Helps Vulnerable Stretch Food Dollars


On the first Monday of each month, Carolyn Jonsson, Manager for Adult Education at Community Services Calgary, heads to the wholesaler to do some grocery shopping. Carolyn isn’t shopping for herself or her own family, she is shopping for 30-50 people who have signed up for the 5 Loaves & 2 Fish program at the Barbara Mitchell Family Resource Centre.

A food-sharing program, 5 Loaves & 2 Fish, allows individuals and families to enjoy the financial benefits of bulk-buying. People contribute $5 for each portion that they wish to receive and the money is pooled together to purchase in bulk. The program focuses primarily on fresh vegetables and fruits, which are often the priciest items on a grocery list.

“It’s often less expensive on a per pound basis to buy the giant bag of potatoes or onions or apples or oranges compared to buying individual portions. But when you are living on a tight budget you can’t always afford to buy in these bigger quantities,” says Carolyn. “So we go and buy the big quantities at the wholesaler to get the best price and then divide it up so families and individuals can stretch their food dollars, get more variety and reduce spoilage.”

With food costs on the rise, more people are participating in this unique program. Participation has ranged between 30 – 40 portions since the program’s inception in May 2015, but this month 60 portions were registered.

First time program participant May was all smiles as she collected her portion from the make-shift grocery aisles. “It’s a good deal!” she beamed.



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