Monday, May 15, 2017


Have you heard about the Brown Bag program? Once a week, the stalwart folks at Grey Bears provide a grocery sack full of fresh produce for qualified seniors county-wide. (Including home deliveries to hundreds of housebound seniors.)

But here's something I didn't know until a few weeks ago: you don't have to be in the low-income bracket to qualify. Anyone age 55 or over is eligible to receive a bag of goodies — every week! — for a ridiculously modest investment of only $30 a year!

For a long time, Art Boy and I never even considered participating in this program; we thought a weekly surprise package of produce we would be fun, but we didn't want to take food out of the mouths of people who might not otherwise be able to afford it.

But then one night we had dinner with Grey Bears honcho Tim Brattan, who invited — no, implored us — to join the program. The organization has to provide brown bags for X number of participants in order to retain the crucial grant funding that keeps the program going. So anyone in the correct age bracket willing to spend as little as $30 per annum (or more, if you're so inclined) to support the program is welcome to sign up.

And just look at what you get! There's been a box of strawberries in our bag every week of the three weeks we've been part of the program! (Hey, that's practically worth the annual investment right there!)

There's usually a selection of root veggies — potatoes, yams, carrots, onions (one week there were parsnips, which I discovered I love!) — and an apple or an orange, or two. This week we got two big, fat portobello mushrooms! Some sort of bagged salad greens is also part of the deal, shredded coleslaw cabbage this week, but last week it was a bag of fresh spinach leaves — pre-rinsed!

And let's not forget the bread! The brown bag is stapled shut, so the contents are always a surprise, but you get to pick out a loaf or two of whatever you like from a mind-boggling variety of breads.

Food is locally donated, and a community of 75 Grey Bears volunteers put the bags together each week, to be trucked to various distribution points around town. When you sign up, you'll find out where the nearest drop-off is, and your name will go on a list at that location. You'll get an official membership card in a couple of weeks, but as soon as your name goes on that list, you can start reaping the bounty!

To sign up for the Brown Bag program, or find out more about this intrepid organization, visit the Grey Bears website.


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