Personal Best: Eating well on a budget

Pat Black looks at a way of eating healthy, locally grown fruits and vegetables, for seniors on a budget

I am going to start to buy the Good Food Box this month and see what it is like. Having recently retired and now living on pensions I am facing a whole new money ball game with a greatly reduced income level.

One of the first budget items that can be, and needs to be reduced, is the amount of money I spend on food. I generally have a simple diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, a small amount of meat and fish, with three daily whole wheat bread and dairy products. Hardly any processed foods. But as most of you know the cost of fruits and vegetables can take up a big part of our food budget that will only increase as winter approaches and these staples have to be imported. We are very lucky to have a Good Food Box program in the North Okanagan and kudos to the Food Action Society of the North Okanagan who administer this program.

The Food Action Society works on food issues “from field to table” focusing on the entire system that puts food on our tables; from growing, processing and distribution of food to its purchasing, cooking and consumption. They believe that food is vital to the health of individuals and communities, and that access to good, culturally acceptable, healthy food is a basic human right. And the Good Food Box is a good example of one of their activities. It is a volunteer non-profit, bulk produce buying initiative to help families include more fresh fruits and vegetables in their meals at a cost they can afford. The low cost of the Good Food Box is made possible because of group buying. By pooling their money, Good Food Box participants can buy food wholesale and get better prices. Volunteer labour for sorting and packing keeps the prices down. The selection of produce in the box changes according to the season, but basic items such as potatoes, carrots and onions are always included. Items are chosen according to what is good quality, in season and affordable at the time. The Good Food Box buys direct from local farmers when possible.

The Good Food Box delivers a basket of fresh fruit and vegetables to a central location monthly. Individuals pay $15 ($9 smaller box is also available in Vernon) by Wednesday the week before distribution day which is always the third Thursday of the month. The Good Food Box is available in a central location but delivery service is available in Vernon within city limits and the charge is only $3 for one to two boxes for those who are unable to pick it up. Their website shows a sample box could contain potatoes, onions, carrots, romaine lettuce, broccoli, English cucumber, yams, tomatoes, apples, grapes, oranges and all for $15. For people on a fixed income this is a great deal and I estimate I would spend about $34 ordinarily for these same items. Anyhow I will see how it all works and let you know. You can call Diane at 250-306-7800 to order or get more information.

If you are a senior and have concerns or complaints or difficulty in resolving health care issues you can now call the Seniors Health Care Support Line, says a press release from the Ministry of Health. Established in June of this year this line offers direct support along with timely follow-up through resolution. This toll-free phone line is available Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. by calling 1-877-952-3181. I would be interested in hearing any feed back about results that happen from contacting this service as well. You can let me know by calling my number at 250-542-7928 or e-mailing blackmail1@telus.net.

Pat Black writes about issues of importance to seniors in the community, appearing every other Sunday in The Morning Star.