Co-op makes veges more accessible

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by George Clark

A Timaru community group is imploring households under financial pressure following the Covid-19 Lockdown to try their local vegetable co-operative.

The fruit and vegetable co-op – aptly named “Eat Well” – has run since September 2016 as part of the Timaru Presbyterian Church and co-ordinator Andrea Grant said its main goal is to add value to the community.

“With a background in nutrition, I see that one of the relatively simple things we can do to improve how we eat is to have more fruit and vegetables,” she said.

“A lot of people see them as expensive. We saw an opportunity to help people get affordable fruit and veges, ideas for using more veges, and build community while we do it.”

The collective has a dedicated group of volunteers working to help organise and process the produce every week for most of the year.

They pack bags in a sustainable way, using home-sewn reusable cloth bags and washing them weekly.

“We order the produce from the wholesaler and then our volunteers pack bags at $10 or $15 amounts. Members make their order the Thursday before for a large or small bag of fruit and/or veges.”

Coming together for a healthy cause . . . (From left) Margaret Hughes, Gavin Hughes, David Elliot, Joy Elliot, Andrea Grant, Rory Grant, Margaret Chapman, Margaret Younger, Brent Richardson, Bev Quigley and Helen Carter pack produce bags for purchase. PHOTO: GEORGE CLARK

Joy Elliott co-ordinates the packing of bags every week.

“Our wholesaler, Timaru Produce, do a great job at getting us good seasonal fruit and veges, and we get a wonderful variety. It is a way for us to connect while we are packing bags and we get to know people ordering.”

As well as the regular food donations from the church community, the co-op gives a fruit and vege bag to the Family Works (PSSC) food bank each week.

“A couple of neat relationships have developed. Kindergartens were looking for someone to help do some vegetable-based baking/food with the kids and asked our team. We have been going and making food regularly with a couple of the kindergartens, drawing on the skills our team can share.”

Anyone can order or give to someone else.

Orders can be collected between 3-4pm on Tuesdays from Trinity Church Hall, 22 College Rd or St Stephens Church 349 Wai-iti Rd.