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Harvest time: Affordability key to Langley food program

Monthly fruit and veggie bags for $6 welcome by more and more local seniors and families

Vivian Gillard calls it her bag of surprises.

For $6 a month, she receives a bag of mixed fruits and vegetables, enough to carry the 62-year-old single Willoughby Slope senior through for about two weeks of meals. Part of the appeal, she said, is never knowing what to expect inside.

When she first learned about the Langley’s Healthy Living Bags on Facebook this summer, she was skeptical – but willing to give it a shot.

“The price was right,” she said.

With the rising costs of living – especially her food bill each month – she figured it was worth checking out. And while she’s only received monthly bags twice so far, she’s glad she signed up and is quick to encourage others to take advantage of the Healthy Living Bags.

Last month, for instance, she received corn, apples, bananas, and little cherry tomatoes. The tomatoes alone were worth the price she paid for the entire package. Then for October, the selection changed up a bit, offering carrots, oranges, apples and bananas again, plus little cherry tomatoes and onion.

The carrots and onions, she insisted, came in handy when preparing her Thanksgiving meal.

The bags are not intended to meet all of a person’s fruit and veggie nutritional needs for the entire month, but rather augment what people get from their other sources, said Shannon Woykin, executive director of Langley Meals on Wheels.

Her organization partners with the City of Langley and Ralph’s Farm Market to provide the monthly food security program.

“This program has been in the Langleys for as long as I can remember, having a few name changes along the way,” Woykin said, explaining that Meals on Wheels became involved when they heard it was in jeopardy.

“We didn’t want to see the program end, because it’s so good, so important to many.”

The need for food security initiatives, like their meal delivery program, Healthy Living Bags, the food banks, and shelter meals are critical to more and more people. Not surprising in the current economic climate, the numbers of participants in this bag program have increased in recent months.

She estimated 130 to 150 bags are sold each month.

Some of the regulars are individuals who can’t easily get to the grocery store, or who can’t use bags of one item of produce before it spoils. Others participate simply, because it’s more affordable.

Woykin noted that no one profits from the program. In fact, the bags that are put together by the team at Ralph’s Market each month would retail for at least double the price paid, and she’s anxious to see it stay that way.

She’s quick to clarify that the bags are not just for seniors – although they make up about 80 per cent of participants. Nor are they exclusively for singles. She understands several couples buy into the program, and if they need more for visiting family they simply buy two or three bags that month. Similarly, there are several single mom’s tapping into it as a valued resource.

“This isn’t a bag that they depend on, but more one they enjoy,” Woykin said.

Gillard concurred.

“I’m gonna continue doing it,” the newbie said. “It’s like a surprise every time you go get it. You don’t know what’s in it right until you bring it home and open it up and you go, oh, look at this cool, a bag of surprises.”

The bags are distributed the first Tuesday of the month, between 11 a.m and 8 p.m., at Timms Community Centre in Langley City, or alternatively at the Meals on Wheel’s Firehouse Cafe in Aldergrove between 2 and 4 p.m. that same day of the month.

Orders must be pre-paid by the Wednesdays prior to pick-up day.

People can order by calling 604-514-2940 or visiting


PAST COVERAGE: Healthy choices are in the bag

Roxanne Hooper

About the Author: Roxanne Hooper

I began in the news industry at age 15, but honestly, I knew I wanted to be a community journalist even before that.
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