New Brunswick

Healthy-eating programs created for low-income neighbourhood

A Saint John community group is using an array of new programs to help people living in a poverty-stricken section of Saint John find ways to eat better.

Saint John's Crescent Valley Resource Centre is offering food security programs for area residents

The Crescent Valley Resource Centre is designing new food security programs that are intended to help residents in the north end neighbourhood find ways to eat better. (Cherise Letson/CBC)

A Saint John community group is using an array of new programs to help people living in a poverty-stricken section of Saint John find ways to eat better.

The Crescent Valley Resource Centre is offering food security programs to give residents access to affordable, healthy food, as well as tips for healthy cooking on a budget.

Anne Driscoll, the centre’s executive director, said the food programs are badly needed in the north end neighbourhood.

“I think in a neighbourhood, like this, where there is such a high level of poverty, we've really found that eating healthy is not an option for a lot of people,” Driscoll said.

A lot of people have been brought up without knowing the basics of what you need to eat healthy.- Kathy Hannah, Crescent Valley resident

“Unfortunately, affordable food is not always the healthiest food. So we've worked with public health, we've worked with the provincial government, we've worked with other granting foundations to help us find innovative ways to expose residents to healthy food."

The centre, which is located on MacLaren Boulevard, also offers a variety of other programs, such as slow-cooker classes, healthy free sample days and a food purchasing club.

Residents, who are using these different programs, say the centre is filling an important need in the community.

Kathy Hannah, who lives in the neighbourhood, said the centre’s various initiatives have taught her some valuable new skills.

"A lot of people have been brought up without knowing the basics of what you need to eat healthy. And with all the diabetes and high blood pressure, we really need these programs," she said.

Darlene Verner said the centre’s breakfast program has changed her lifestyle.

"I came here because I have a healthy breakfast, and since I've come here, I've learned more about eating more healthy and taking care of myself,” she said.

The centre’s executive director said for some people in the neighbourhood the programs being offered do more than show how to be healthy on a budget.

"It gives them a healthy meal. For some of them it may be the only thing they may be eating for the day,” Driscoll said.

“So we're certainly happy that we can provide that service in the neighbourhood."

Driscoll said these programs are offered year-round and will accept people who don't live in Crescent Valley.

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