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Healthy food boxes gaining popularity

 This past Wednesday, the Métis Hall at 714 Armit Ave. resembled a factory assembly line as volunteers put together some 300 boxes of fruits and vegetables as part of the monthly “Healthy Living Food Box” program.    In a quick and orderly fashion, the 30 volunteers on hand filled the boxes with fresh produce, from a local distributor, and got them ready for pick-up from the public.    The program was established back in October through a partnership between the Northwestern Health Unit and Sunset Country Métis in an effort to create healthier eating patterns among local residents.    “We saw the need for such a program in the area and decided this was the way to go about it. [It] promotes healthy food consumption,” said Ann-Marie Armstrong, health educator for the Sunset Country Métis.    On the first Wednesday of the month, anyone interested needs to drop off $20 at the Sunset Country Métis office at 426 Victoria Ave.    Then on the third Wednesday of the month, your “Healthy Living” food box will be ready for pick-up at the Métis Hall.    “We’ve had a lot of support from some really great people and groups in our community, and we work extremely hard to put the boxes together,” Armstrong noted.    Anyone can participate in the program as it is open to the public and designed to benefit every household. It is ideal for people who find it difficult to get enough fruit and vegetables in their diet, or to get out to shop for groceries.    Each box contains in-season fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grain products, canned foods, and basic healthy items. The types of foods change each month to offer variety.    Basic items, such as potatoes, carrots, onions, apples, bananas, and oranges, usually will be included in the boxes each month.    Also available upon request are recipe ideas and shopping guides (just ask when placing your order).    The program is run by a not-for-profit organization, meaning the “Healthy Living Food Box” depends on volunteers and corporate sponsorship. More money goes towards the food in the boxes than their cost to the public each month.    “The entire $20 people give to us goes directly towards the food purchases,” Armstrong explained. “We don’t make any extra.    “t actually cost more and we absorb those costs through our corporate sponsorships.”    This program helps ensure families have healthy food items in their kitchen cupboards every month. The items in the box can provide meals for a family of four with only a few added ingredients.    Anyone interested in trying out the program can sign up and pay the $20 by the first Wednesday of August at the Sunset Country Métis office.    “People don’t have to order a box every month if they don’t want to,” said Armstrong. “The idea is to get people to plan ahead and think about healthy diets.”

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