Hidden gems in your local community

Since I wrote “that post” about the struggles of being a single Mum I have been given much advice on where to turn for help.  I must admit there is a lot more help out there for anyone needing it, much more help than I ever thought.

I never really feel comfortable seeking help from charities.  After all, aren’t they for people who are in trouble financially or who can’t manage.  Like single Mums with lots of ki…….. um, hmmm, OK, so that’s me and I’m at a point where I need to start seeking help wherever I can.  Sometimes though I feel that I am not “needy” enough and may be taking away from other people who are in much worse situations than me. But then I look at the nearly $1000 electricity bill and the incoming money which isn’t going to come close to covering it and I realise I’m not in a great position here.

So today I headed off to the local Food Co-Op to see what they had on offer grocery wise to help me.

As I walked in I was met by a volunteer, a lovely elderly lady called Pat who explained to me how things worked. I immediately launched into why I needed to shop there thinking I had to justify my being there to which she replied that everyone is welcome to shop regardless of their situation. She pointed me to some meal packages they put together that include all the vegetables, meat and condiments to make certain meals.  These were priced from $5 to $8.50 and fed 4 people.  Perfect.  Pat walked around with me pointing out everything, what the bargains were, the heavily reduced items that were out of date and baby items including the brands I’d normally buy which were half the price.

I saw other people coming in, it was a real sense of community. Like an old style corner store, everyone knew everyone else. I left with all this which cost a tiny $50!!! Considering I had been paying $200+ a week for groceries, to buy all of this that included everything for 5 meals plus things like Pull Ups, baby wipes, laundry soaker for $50 was amazing and a huge relief.

I decided to cook one of the meals for dinner and it was now that I not only appreciate the monetary value but also the time saved. Everything was measured out, all I had to do was chop some fresh veg which I did in the food processor and throw it in the oven. This took less than 5 minutes to prepare.

So while dinner cooked I was able to feed the baby, clean up and properly supervise homework.

The meal (Tomato Mac and Cheese) was packed with vegies and the kids loved it. Best part was there were left overs for later in the week.  Friday night in our house is left over night.

The price and ease of cooking alone has given me the motivation to go back next fortnight.

This particular Food Co-Op was open to everyone and run by the local council, contact your local council or government to see what other similar services they may offer or speak to them about offering a Food Co-Op service as this week it has been a life saver.  I can’t wait for the day when I can pay forward!

What hidden gems have you found in your local community?

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13 Comments

  • That is awesome, not only did you discover a less expensive way of doing your shopping. It brought you into a warm, friendly, kind atmosphere where you no longer felt alone. Enjoy!!!

  • That’s great that they make everyone feel welcome there! In my neighborhood in Nashville we have a great bargain store called ” bargain hunt” and it’s a great place to buy pretty much anything from baby products to clothes that are heavily discounted. I love it!

  • I’m glad you had such a positive experience! And that there are these kinds of resources. I wasn’t aware of them either. Good to know for sure.

  • Wow that Co-op sounds cool. I’m in the states and I guess our closest equivalent is food banks (what we call co-ops are actually quite expensive unless you’re a member, which you have to pay for). The food at food banks is free, but you usually have to qualify, bring ID, wait in line, and only get what they give you rather than choosing it. Also, it’s the food grocery stores no longer want or able to sell. I once got something from a food bank that had expired a decade earlier.

    That being said we have one particular food bank near us that gives away a lot of actually good food. Produce that isn’t rotten and they often even have vegan specialty items, baby supplies, snacks for the kids, and just really nice people helping. All for free! We also have something called “Food Not Bombs” which is a vegan anarchist food collective. They do a free meal on Sundays but we only went once in Seattle because the location is not very convenient for us. What we go to regularly is their “Food Market” on Sundays. It’s just free food-again what stores are not able to see, but a lot more produce than the average food bank, open to anyone, no lines, and no limits. The only downside is everyone picks their stuff at once so it’s kind of a battle, but most people are nice and there’s usually plenty for everyone.

    Anyway, those are my local gems!

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