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Everybody Eats: Join a food buying club and enjoy the savings

Combining grocery-buying resources can bring health benefits, helps fund access to local food

Want to save money on food? Try coming together in a group to buy your groceries in bulk.

Whether it’s a group of families sharing the purchase of a cow to provide a variety of beef cuts or a person joining a CSA (Community
Supported Agriculture) to ensure they get their weekly intake of locally grown vegetables, folks can band together to find cheaper ways to access the food they want to eat.

In Guelph we’re accustomed to co-operatives. With myriad examples of buying clubs from the traditional CSAs like those at the Ignatius Farm or the Thursday Guelph Farmers’ Market (Cedar Down Farms) and in the past, Guelph has been home to delicious sourdough bread, flowers and even cheese in a CSA or buying club.

Coming together to purchase food gives a sense of purpose and can build community.

Many folks in Guelph will remember the Garden Fresh Box. This program from the Guelph Community Health Centre offered a monthly box of fresh
produce including fruits and vegetables for a good price. Fresh fruits and vegetables arrived in a green tub with little to no packaging.

It has since been replaced by The SEED, a community grocery store that supports individual and community wellbeing. 

The benefit of these food buying clubs is that it has both health benefits (increases access and often consumption of fruit and vegetables) and helps
fund access to food in our community.

In this case, The SEED continues to support the Fresh Food Prescription program that allows health care providers (local doctors, nurse practitioners and registered dietitians) to “prescribe” fresh fruits and vegetables. By purchasing your groceries at The SEED, you are also supporting the Fresh Food Prescription program.

In the DIY era people are starting their own buying clubs. Whether you just want to share the cost of a giant bundle of toilet paper at Costco or initiate
your own natural foods buying club you can start by finding your people. A group of friends or family with similar food values is a good place to start.

The Ontario Natural Food Co-op has ample experience with its buying clubs and even offers helpful advice on setting up your own buying club. Check
out the group's FAQs to start a buying club with them or even to get a sense of the first steps to starting your own successful buying club.

Looking for something simpler? Try gathering your friends and approaching a local farmer who farms or grows the products you’re interested in purchasing. For instance, raising the right number of chicks to grow into next winter’s Sunday dinner is possible for your local farmer with some
preliminary conversations. It can also help to keep the cost down for the farmer and ensure they receive income at a fair price for their work.

There are a lot of wonderful food initiatives happening at 10C in Guelph. Two wonderful ones include f.u.n. Fridays and Lady Sara’s Bounty.

Lady Sara’s Bounty is on a mission to simplify mealtimes for busy families. She offers a new menu every Tuesday and accepts orders until Friday at
noon. Her food is produced in 10C’s nourish kitchen each week and delivered to you.

While it is more expensive than cooking your own food it offers convenience and nutrition that would be hard to match in take-out food.

f.u.n. Fridays operates in the Onward Willow neighbourhood. F.U.N. is short for Food Uniting Neighbours and they offer food, food access resources and
take home grocery items every Friday in the Shelldale gym. Each week they are joined by The SEED who offer their sliding scale market at F.U.N. Fridays.

Other food organizations share information and local artists and musicians come to share their gifts.

Sounds like a great way for a community to come together to enjoy food and make change!