SHARE Your Way to Reduced Grocery Prices Through Volunteer Work

In almost every state in the USA, there is a food program known by some variation of the name SHARE � (Self Help And Resource Exchange). Heartland Share serves Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Arkansas and Missouri. SHARE Colorado serves Colorado, New Mexico, South Dakota, Wyoming and Nebraska. Serve New England (formerly known as SHARE New England) serves Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. Share E. PA serves eastern Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland Eastern Shore and New York City. The list goes on and on.

All of these organizations began with the idea of one man, Carl Shelton, a corporate businessman turned Catholic deacon who founded the first SHARE program in 1983.

This is not a charity or a limited income program. It is not a government program. It is funded by grants, donations and the price of the food packages. Anyone can participate. In fact, their motto is: “If You Eat, You Qualify!”

A “share” of food is a package of items valued at approximately $40, that can be purchased at a greatly reduced price in exchange for an hour or two of volunteer service per month. Any type of service to a non-household member counts. In fact, in many states, the volunteer requirement has been dropped, or is âÂ?¦ well, a VOLUNTEER REQUIREMENT!

In most cases, this “share” of food costs approximately $16-20 dollars, plus two hours of volunteer service, and there is no limit to the number of shares that can be purchased. Here, for example, is the basic SHARE package for June 2006 at Heartland SHARE:
Ã?· Breaded Chicken Breast Chunks – 24 oz.
Ã?· Grill Marked Salmon Filets – 17 oz.
Ã?· Jennie-O Turkey Sausage Links – 12 oz.
Ã?· Split Chicken Breasts – 2 lbs.
Ã?· Applebee’s Pork Riblets – 1.25 lbs.
�· Plus fresh Fruits, fresh Vegetables, and one or two grocery items.

Besides the “basic” share, most programs also offer other special packages of food at comparable prices. For example, around the Memorial Day Holiday, many offered a package containing meats for a barbeque, and other holiday items.

The food is great, and they even offer menu tips to help you better utilize the food you buy each month. The food is purchased directly from growers, manufacturers, and producers, and the pricing is made possible by the power of “bulk buying” and the volunteers who man the program’s warehouses and distribution “host sites”.

If your state is not listed among the links found with this article, you can probably find a chapter in your state by doing an Internet search for “SHARE and food and YOURSTATE”, or possibly by contacting the Catholic Church, which sponsors the program in many states.

Make the most of your food buying dollars, and help strengthen your community through participation in a SHARE program.

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