A program that gives Winnipeg's Elmwood and Chalmers neighbourhoods fresh and affordable fruits and vegetables is quickly growing as people find it harder to get fresh produce.
"It has been a Godsend for people because... they don't have that access to the big box stores," said Jacquie Pontedeira, who's with Better Access to Groceries (BAG).
Anyone within the Chalmers Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation area can pay $10 for a bag of fresh produce every first and third Tuesday of the month. The food is bought in bulk so it's less expensive for people, Pontedeira said. Orders are picked up at Chalmers Community Centre and what's in the bag is a surprise.
In the fall of 2014 the program received 12 orders. Last Tuesday BAG received 378 orders, Pontedeira said.
BAG started with a group of moms who wanted fresh produce to feed their kids but couldn't access the grocery stores on Henderson Highway.
"They couldn't drive, they didn't have cars, too hard to get to the bus," said Pontedeira. "A lot of the local places were just getting more and more expensive so they got together and they said, we want to be able to do this."
The moms teamed up with three organizations to make the program happen — Together in Elmwood, a Parent Child Coalition, Chalmers Community Centre and Elmwood Community Resource Centre.
"For our last bag we were able to give out pineapples and cauliflower and trays of mushrooms," she said. "I'm all for buying local but you can't get those things necessarily from those little grocery stores."
A big-name grocery store recently closed in the neighbourhood, making the program even more useful to those in the area, she said.
"They love the fact that they can feed their families with a budget. They love that they get the fresh produce and they actually like and that there's that surprise element too."
To order from BAG, call 204-669-0750 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, address, postal code, phone number and order quantity.