Bulk bang

Danette Dooley
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Low income families get more bang for their buck by buying bulk

Isabelle Harris, 6, helps her mom Nicole shop for oranges. Photo by Danette Dooley/Special to The Telegram

Isabelle Harris claps her hands when told her family's going grocery shopping.
"Can we get cheese and oranges and milk?" the six-year-old asks, pulling on her coat in record time.
Living on income support has sometimes meant saying no to such healthy choices, Isabelle's father Joshua Harris says.
However, since the family became members of the Level Best Bulk Food Buying Club, having to tell Isabelle those foods aren't an option is happening far less often, he says.
Joshua and his wife Nicole also have a three-month-old baby, Maggie Rose.
Because of the extra expenses of having a newborn, stretching a dollar is even more challenging, Nicole says.
"If you're paying $40 for formula that's $40 less that you have to put towards other things," she says.
Joshua is from the Stephenville area of the province.
Nicole is from Rocky Harbour.
They now live near the MacMorran Community Centre in the east end of St. John's.
The family is looking forward to participating, for the third year in a row, in the Level Best Bulk Food Buying Club.
The club is an initiative of the Brighter Futures Coalition of St. John's and the Burin Peninsula Brighter Futures.
The non-profit organizations offer programs and services to over 20 communities in both rural and urban parts of the province, the majority of which promote healthy birth, growth and development of children.
Operating out of MacMorran, the bulk-food initiative promotes the thinking that parents will do their "level best" to provide for their families.
Buying in bulk gives families better access to a variety of nutritional foods.
Families who join the club pay an initial $5 membership fee, then $15 each month, an amount matched by Brighter Futures.
"So we get $30 worth of groceries every month for the $15 that we put in ourselves," Joshua says.
After the families meet to decide what foods they'd like to buy that month, they go, as a group, to the grocery store.
"When we get together for our monthly meetings, we talk about what's on sale at each supermarket. And it's not unusual for us to go to different supermarkets during the one shopping trip if it's going to get us more food for our money," Joshua says.
After all the food has been purchased, it is divided evenly among the families.
"Isabelle loves cheese but it's not cheap, so if other families in our group want cheese as well, we can buy the large block and half it or quarter it, depending on how many families have that on their list," Joshua explains.
As team leader with the Brighter Futures Coalition of St. John's, Deborah Capps co-ordinates the project in the St. John's area.
She credits the Harris family for their efforts in promoting healthy eating, not only for their own families but also in their community.
The family is an important part of the community centre as well, Capps says.
Capps meets with Harris and other families in the club every month. Together they arrange the shopping trip, then she provides transportation for the families that don't have vehicles.
Capps says the project not only helps families eat healthy but also educates them on the healthy choices, using the Canada Food Guide as reference.
"When we get together to do some planning and one of the topics that gets lots of discussion is that if something is labelled with fruit, does that mean they are all nutritious food items. We talk about why fruit juice is better than fruit punch, and that type of thing," Capps says.
The project works, Capps says, because of the families' involvement. They interact with one another and learn from each other, Capps says.
"We're not doing something for families, we're doing something with families. They tell us what they want, it's not us telling them," she says.
In 2007, the clubs were up and running in family resource centres in St. John's, Lamaline, Grand Falls-Windsor, Stephenville and the Northern Peninsula.
Thanks to recent funding from the province's wellness coalition, the project is now being expanded to include five new sites making the club a provincial initiative, Capps says.
The project, which involves six families at a time, is now getting ready to start at the MacMorran Community Centre.
Capps encourages parents with children six and under who live in the MacMorran Community Centre area to contact Brighter Futures if they're interested in joining the club. She can be reached at 739-8096 or by e-mail at dcapps@brighter-futures.net.

danette@nl.rogers.com

Organizations: MacMorran Community Centre, Level Best Bulk Food Buying Club, Brighter Futures Coalition Canada Food Guide

Geographic location: St. John's, Stephenville, Lamaline Northern Peninsula

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Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • S
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    Excuse you. I'm a single mother, I work a fulltime job 37.5 hrs a week, making more then $9 an hour and still unable to give my son eveything he needs. Even with the programs they offer its still not enough, especially when daycare cost exceeds the amount the the progam offers. So unless you are actually in the situtaion where you are a single parent and trying to provide to a child then what gives you the right to talk. I agree that most people that are receiving income support can be working and should be working, But ther are alot of people out there are just taking advantage!

  • Brad
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    I don't know who these people are, but I can say for sure that the healthy choice concept isn't working for the miss in the photo.

    Some other posters got it right, unless there is a missing component here, Mr. Harris should get his very likely lazy a ss off the couch and find a job.

    The lame excuse there is no work in this city is just that an excuse .

    I read an article a few weeks ago where two very sick kids had to leave home, family and province for an indefinite time in order to get treatment, and solely because the government bank was stressed.

    The Harris parents should ask themselves, what if they were my kids.
    I don't know, and maybe should not judge, but I would dare say these people receive the same amount for the child benefit as my wife and I; our kids are 3 and 5 and our benefit is $790.00. The only other difference is, I work at a call center full time nights, and my wife works in homecare 30 hours a week. Both of these industries are screaming for employees, so Mr. & Mrs. Harris why are you satisfied to live on less than I, all income source combined gives us $3426.00 gross a month! Does welfare pay more?

  • jason
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    Ok well there is a side to every story and I think the people that take advantage of the system have given most everyone else on income support a bad name. The sad part of this story is it just isnt those on income suport that could avail of such a program. many working families at teh end of the day after they pay the mtg or rent and other bills have very little left over and usually it results in poor choices at the supermarket as junk food is cheaper than good food. You can buy 2 chocolate bars for a dollar yet two apples will cost you three dollars. A 2 liter of pepsi can be bought on sale most weeks for less than $1.50 while a 2 liter of milk is almost $4 and the same of juice is $3.

  • Get a Grip
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    Do you realize how nearly impossible it is to live on a salary of 10$ an hour as a single person? It is unimaginable to me how you could expect a family of four - with a newborn infant - to do so! at 10$ that's clearing just over 500$ every two weeks - and to rent a one bedroom apartment in this city these days costs more than that per month - leaving a single income family on that kind of salry with less than 500$ to live on for a month with utilities and groceries and transportation, clothes and education. Get a grip and learn about the real world before you make these statements.

  • Good
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    Thats quite a funny comment Get a job. WIth over 13 years of experience and two university degree's I still need to leave the province to find gainful employment in the Have Province.

    Guess Micky D's is ok for you, but they will not even keep my application on file since I am over qualified.

    Shame on me. I should be a grade 7 drop out then to go to work for $8.00 an hour and be happy in your books. Guess I need to lie on my resume to lower myself to your standards.

  • Lisa
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    get a job..I hope you never have to experience the look anguish at having to tell your 6 year that, no we can't have oranges or cheese or even milk this week/small things to ask for this in this world of plenty..maybe that's whats wrong with the world today, no one really cares about anyone else or anyone elses welfare..it actually pained me to read the comments you wrote to this young family...

  • GET A
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    B'y go to work and you'll have money for food ! THIS DAY IN AGE THERE ARE NO NEED FOR PEOPLE TO BE ON INCOME SUPPORT ... Do you know that there are signs everywhere looking for workers , MacDonalds pays over 9 bucks an hour .. come off it is there any need for income support ? there are resources out there to help if your a single parent , they help with child care so you can go to work and make your own money !

  • MN
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    Get a Job....are you at work right now? Your boss is ok with you typing drivel on the computer? So what do you do at McDonald's....maybe something managerial? Just wondering.

  • Joan
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    I think that the below comment is totally out of line... Don't judge until you've walked a mile in someone else's shoes... You have no idea about this family's situation.... This is a good news story. People helping each other and ensuring that their children get the proper nutrition... Well done, I say.

  • Diane
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    Why spend $40 on formula when you can breastfeed for free. Why have another baby when you can't afford to take care of the one you have.

  • S
    July 01, 2010 - 20:23

    Excuse you. I'm a single mother, I work a fulltime job 37.5 hrs a week, making more then $9 an hour and still unable to give my son eveything he needs. Even with the programs they offer its still not enough, especially when daycare cost exceeds the amount the the progam offers. So unless you are actually in the situtaion where you are a single parent and trying to provide to a child then what gives you the right to talk. I agree that most people that are receiving income support can be working and should be working, But ther are alot of people out there are just taking advantage!

  • Brad
    July 01, 2010 - 20:21

    I don't know who these people are, but I can say for sure that the healthy choice concept isn't working for the miss in the photo.

    Some other posters got it right, unless there is a missing component here, Mr. Harris should get his very likely lazy a ss off the couch and find a job.

    The lame excuse there is no work in this city is just that an excuse .

    I read an article a few weeks ago where two very sick kids had to leave home, family and province for an indefinite time in order to get treatment, and solely because the government bank was stressed.

    The Harris parents should ask themselves, what if they were my kids.
    I don't know, and maybe should not judge, but I would dare say these people receive the same amount for the child benefit as my wife and I; our kids are 3 and 5 and our benefit is $790.00. The only other difference is, I work at a call center full time nights, and my wife works in homecare 30 hours a week. Both of these industries are screaming for employees, so Mr. & Mrs. Harris why are you satisfied to live on less than I, all income source combined gives us $3426.00 gross a month! Does welfare pay more?

  • jason
    July 01, 2010 - 20:13

    Ok well there is a side to every story and I think the people that take advantage of the system have given most everyone else on income support a bad name. The sad part of this story is it just isnt those on income suport that could avail of such a program. many working families at teh end of the day after they pay the mtg or rent and other bills have very little left over and usually it results in poor choices at the supermarket as junk food is cheaper than good food. You can buy 2 chocolate bars for a dollar yet two apples will cost you three dollars. A 2 liter of pepsi can be bought on sale most weeks for less than $1.50 while a 2 liter of milk is almost $4 and the same of juice is $3.

  • Get a Grip
    July 01, 2010 - 20:12

    Do you realize how nearly impossible it is to live on a salary of 10$ an hour as a single person? It is unimaginable to me how you could expect a family of four - with a newborn infant - to do so! at 10$ that's clearing just over 500$ every two weeks - and to rent a one bedroom apartment in this city these days costs more than that per month - leaving a single income family on that kind of salry with less than 500$ to live on for a month with utilities and groceries and transportation, clothes and education. Get a grip and learn about the real world before you make these statements.

  • Good
    July 01, 2010 - 20:08

    Thats quite a funny comment Get a job. WIth over 13 years of experience and two university degree's I still need to leave the province to find gainful employment in the Have Province.

    Guess Micky D's is ok for you, but they will not even keep my application on file since I am over qualified.

    Shame on me. I should be a grade 7 drop out then to go to work for $8.00 an hour and be happy in your books. Guess I need to lie on my resume to lower myself to your standards.

  • Lisa
    July 01, 2010 - 20:07

    get a job..I hope you never have to experience the look anguish at having to tell your 6 year that, no we can't have oranges or cheese or even milk this week/small things to ask for this in this world of plenty..maybe that's whats wrong with the world today, no one really cares about anyone else or anyone elses welfare..it actually pained me to read the comments you wrote to this young family...

  • GET A
    July 01, 2010 - 20:04

    B'y go to work and you'll have money for food ! THIS DAY IN AGE THERE ARE NO NEED FOR PEOPLE TO BE ON INCOME SUPPORT ... Do you know that there are signs everywhere looking for workers , MacDonalds pays over 9 bucks an hour .. come off it is there any need for income support ? there are resources out there to help if your a single parent , they help with child care so you can go to work and make your own money !

  • MN
    July 01, 2010 - 20:02

    Get a Job....are you at work right now? Your boss is ok with you typing drivel on the computer? So what do you do at McDonald's....maybe something managerial? Just wondering.

  • Joan
    July 01, 2010 - 20:01

    I think that the below comment is totally out of line... Don't judge until you've walked a mile in someone else's shoes... You have no idea about this family's situation.... This is a good news story. People helping each other and ensuring that their children get the proper nutrition... Well done, I say.

  • Diane
    July 01, 2010 - 19:52

    Why spend $40 on formula when you can breastfeed for free. Why have another baby when you can't afford to take care of the one you have.